Jets Extend Contracts Of Maurice And Cheveldayoff
WINNIPEG, MB. — There are many critics/trolls of the Winnipeg Jets who would like to have someone – anyone – other than Kevin Cheveldayoff and Paul Maurice at the helm of their favorite hockey club.
However, inside the Jets boardroom, there are no two people on the planet that owners Mark Chipman and David Thomson would rather have running their hockey club.
And that’s why, to the surprise of very few, the Jets made it official on Thursday, announcing the extension of the contracts of both Cheveldayoff and Maurice.
“Chevy” has been the Jets GM since June 8, 2011. That was eight days after the franchise relocated to Winnipeg from Atlanta. The Jets have posted a winning record in five of his six seasons as GM, including winning 40 games last season (40-35-7) for the second time in three seasons. However, the Jets have made the playoffs only once and have won zero post-season games.
To their credit, the Jets made sure to point out yesterday that Cheveldayoff has always had a keen eye for young talent: “Winnipeg has drafted and developed a strong crop of young players under Cheveldayoff’s leadership, including 2016 second overall pick Patrik Laine, who scored 36 goals as a rookie last season and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie,” The hockey club said in a written statement. “Laine was joined by fellow first round picks Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey and Nic Petan as players age 21-and-under that played on a regular basis for the Jets last season. Earlier this year, Winnipeg’s prospect group was one of only two teams to receive an A+ rating by The Hockey News, which also selected the Jets as having the best group of prospects in the NHL.
“In fact, 38.6 per cent of the 44 draft picks made by Cheveldayoff and the Jets between 2011 and 2016 have played in the NHL already, which is second-most in the league. Nine of those 44 draft picks (20.5 per cent) have played more than 70 games in that time which is second in the NHL, while three of those players have averaged 0.5 points per game in their career thus far, which leads the league.”
Perhaps it’s also important to note that Cheveldayoff is as frugal as the ownership group for which he works. They tend to offer large contracts to players they’ve drafted (Steve Mason’s $4.1 million yearly cap hit excepted) rather than sign expensive free agents.
Meanwhile, extended the contract of Maurice came as no surprise. The Jets finished ninth in the West last season with a young group of players and some older players who came over from the very unsuccessful Atlanta Thrashers organization.
Maurice, 50, who hails from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., joined the Jets on Jan. 12, 2014 and is 136-112-33 in 281 games behind the bench. Maurice, who coached in his 1,300th NHL game on Nov. 13, 2016, has a career NHL coaching record of 596-569-200 after 1,365 games as head coach of the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets. He also 25-28 in 53 NHL postseason games.
—Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports
Photo – James Carey Lauder