By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
It was the first significant move that Kevin Cheveldayoff has made as the Winnipeg Jets general manager, and according to him, one that was needed.
“Over the course of a period of time here there was certain levels of expectation, collectively, for our group of players and individually for players and it just became apparent over the last little while that things weren’t trending in the right direction,” said Cheveldayoff.
“We envisioned that we would be higher in the standings but there are some realities that we have to deal with, we can’t hide. Sometimes you need these hard doses of reality to really show that you need to look at some other things more critically.”
Chevy said that this will be an evaluation period for the whole of the Winnipeg Jets organization moving forward.
“Obviously, it does send a message that this is an evaluation situation as well,” he said. “We believe that we are underachieving and now it is up to the players in some respects to show what they are all about. But at the end of the day we have to take a hard, long look at what are other steps we can take to move forward.
“It is a difficult league to just say ‘go make a trade’ and what you are going to get back is going to push the needle forward for you. You have to be very cognizant of that because when you do trade assets, those assets are now gone. You have to know what you are giving up and what assets you are getting back.”
Cheveldayoff was asked if he did everything he could have to help Noel in his job.
“If I am being honest, no,” he said. “This is not without responsibility on my side too, I made the call and I understand that and I don’t take that lightly.”
Meanwhile, Cheveldayoff is confident in Noel’s replacement, former Toronto Maple Leaf’s head coach Paul Maurice.
“Hiring Paul Maurice is something we feel very good about as far as the opportunity we have to hire an experienced National Hockey League coach to come in here and certainly begin putting his stamp on the team and also on the evaluation process we are all going to be going through moving forward,” Cheveldayoff said.
“You need someone that can get to the players, that can teach to them, that can actually get their message across and get the players to unite. We are very fortunate to have someone like Paul coming in at this time.
“He does carry himself very well and has the confidence of a 1,000 games at the National Hockey League level
Cheveldayoff said he began kicking the tires with Maurice after the Jets’ 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday and the loss on Saturday night, 6-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, set the wheels in motion.
“It wasn’t a radar that was for a very long time,” stated Cheveldayoff. “I began reaching out to Paul after the Tampa game just to, at least see — if I was going to go in a direction like that — if he had an interest.
“At that point in time it wasn’t something I was ready to do but last night I went to ownership and talked to them about making the change and met with Paul over the phone at great length and came to an agreement.”
With a long history between Noel and Jets’ owner Mark Chipman, Chevy said there wasn’t any resistance when he requested the change.
“Ultimately, when the request was made, Mark (Chipman) respected it.”
Maurice will fly in to Winnipeg tonight and will address the media tomorrow following the pre-game skate. Cheveldayoff stated that Maurice’s contract will last until the end of the season and that he will evaluate Maurice and the team as a whole at that time.