(Editor’s Note: This piece was originally posted on May 22. On the heels of the 2014 NHL entry draft and the first week of free agent signings, I thought it would be worth revisiting, just to see if I actually know what I’m talking about.)
Let’s say you’re among the Winnipeg Jets faithful. You have endured another season that ended before the real fun began (read: Stanley Cup tournament). So now you wait. And you wonder.
Mostly, you wonder about Kevin Cheveldayoff. Or, to be more accurate, you worry about Kevin Cheveldayoff. You worry about what he might do. Or, in his case, you worry about what he might not do. Doing nothing is, of course, Chevy’s way of doing something.
Already, the chief cook and bottle washer of this non-achieving National Hockey League outfit has advised us that he will do nothing about Ondrej Pavelec—Pavs will be back in goal when the Jets return to business next autumn. Anyone with a hockey IQ higher than Evander Kane’s sweater number can tell you that Pavelec is to stopping pucks what Homer Simpson is to rocket science, so we must assume that Chevy believes some fantasy Fairy Godmother of Goaltenders will sprinkle Dominik Hasek dust on his Czech goalie sometime this summer and his five-hole will shrink like Dan Bylsma’s shelf life behind the Pittsburgh Penguins bench.
So, the local hockey heroes’ most weighty deficiency is between the goal posts, yet the man who generally manages the Jets has no plans to correct it. He will do nothing about it. In other words, he has done something by doing nothing.
This is why you worry about Cheveldayoff.
Had he done something significant in his first three years as puppet master of Team Stand Pat, the prospects of what might transpire during this off-season wouldn’t be quite so fretsome. Alas, as we all know, Cheveldayoff has spent his time in River City doing nothing, other than chant his draft-and-develop mantra and use the waiver wire as his private playground.
Naturally, his apologists in the media sip the True North Kool-Aid and drone on about how Chevy’s been too busy stocking a once-bare cupboard with draft picks and prospects. How he won’t sacrifice the future for the present. How he has a plan. The mainstream print propagandists remind us, ad nauseam, that the word of the day was, is and always will be “patience.” So we’ll have to excuse Cheveldayoff for failing to address present-day requirements, right?
Wrong. It’s time the Wizard of the Waiver Wire did something other than dumpster dive.
Yo! Chevy! You have the worst starting goaltender in the NHL. Fix it.
You have a rough-around-the-edges forward who gives you grief with his off-ice shenanigans but, at the same time, has considerable upside. It would be nice to see him skating alongside a centre-ice man who compliments his game. Fix it.
You have a core group that provides annual evidence that it is incapable of pushing this outfit to the next level, which is to say the playoffs. Fix it.
You have a hybrid skater who can take a game by the throat and rag-doll it, but he seldom seems in the mood to dominate. It could be that he’s pouting because he wishes to play defence, not forward. Fix it.
You have second-line talent on your first line, third-line talent on your second line, first-line talent on your third line, and fourth-line talent that should be either on waivers or in St. John’s. Fix it.
There is so much to do, but that could be why Chevy does something by doing nothing. He doesn’t know where to start.
I (and others) would suggest that goaltending was/still is the ideal place to begin any restructuring of the Jets, but, as stated, we know that won’t happen because Cheveldayoff holds firm to the odd, misguided notion that Pavelec will one day morph into Dominik Hasek.
That leads me to suggest that perhaps the Jets’ main weakness isn’t between the goal posts—it’s between Kevin Cheveldayoff’s ears.
Here’s my guess what will transpire this summer: The Jets gun-shy general manager will field offers for Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien and others just prior to, or on the floor during, the NHL entry draft. He won’t pull the trigger. I’m not promoting a transaction involving Kane or Byfuglien, understand. I’m just saying other teams will cast their lines into the trade waters, but Chevy won’t bite. He will do nothing.
His stable of bird dogs will then tell him which player to select in the first round, and we’ll be advised that this year’s chosen one is three or four years removed from being NHL-ready.
Once he has collected another handful of blue-chippers and/or never-will-be prospects, Cheveldayoff will re-sign Michael Frolik (a no-brainer) and Olli Jokinen (because head coach Paul Maurice really likes him). He’ll then wait for the opening faceoff next October.
In sum, the Jets’ summer of something will be all about nothing.
(Editor’s Footnote: Well, if you’re keeping score at home, I was wrong—Cheveldayoff did not re-sign Olli Jokinen. That was his way of doing something by doing nothing. He did sign free agent Mathieu Perreault, who will replace Jokinen in the Jets lineup. That makes the team younger, although not necessarily better. He also drafted a bunch of kids who are either three or four years away from the NHL or will never play in the NHL. In other words, he’s done nothing to improve the Jets. Who would have thought?)
(FOOTNOTE: I invite your comments. I do not, however, welcome some of your comments. If you believe what I’ve written is the natterings of a nincompoop and belongs at the bottom of a bird cage, let ‘er rip. Tell me why. I enjoy healthy debate. That can be fun. If, on the other hand, your idea of a critique is to attack/insult me about my gender or sexual orientation, then we aren’t going to get along. Let’s put it this way: It is permissible to question the size of my IQ, but not the size of my boobs. Bottom line: I don’t get paid to write this crap, so play nice, kids.)