New Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff spent his first day on the job getting oriented and organized to run an NHL franchise. He also took some time to speak to That's Hockey host Gino Reda about some of the challenges he will have at the helm of Canada's newest NHL club.
Cheveldayoff was asked about Dustin Byfuglien, who voiced some critical comments about how the Thrashers were operated in Atlanta.
"The way the organization was run, it just wasn't up to standards, that's for sure," Byfuglien told the Winnipeg Free Press on Wednesday.
Cheveldayoff was asked if it's a short-term challenge for him to convince his transplanted player roster that change is on the way.
"I think it's my greatest short-term excitement," explained Cheveldayoff. "I can talk about the passion that True North has exuded, and the passion in the city of Winnipeg that everyone has been hearing about. When I talk to the players I'm going to talk about the hockey environment that we're going to create, and that we're going to create something that they are going to be proud of, and that the fans of Manitoba are going to be proud of."
Cheveldayoff, 41, has just over two weeks to prepare for the NHL Entry Draft. Winnipeg has the seventh pick, and the new general manager is well aware of what the pick will mean to his squad. He's also familiar with the Thrashers' scouting staff, many of whom worked for the AHL's Chicago Wolves while Cheveldayoff was an assistant GM with the Blackhawks.
"(The draft) is something that I plan on jumping on right away. We're going to meet as a staff here as soon as we possibly can, and get on board with the type of player that we're going to look for," Cheveldayoff told That's Hockey. "Obviously we have a great pick in the seventh pick, and it's something that's going to be a cornerstone of our franchise. It's something we're going to put a lot of work into in the short term."
And speaking of acquiring players, Cheveldayoff was asked about the potential deterrents that harsh weather and the pressures of playing in a small market might present to attractive free agents to Winnipeg.
"One of the things to be successful in this salary cap environment is you have to grow your own players. You have to make sure that the players that you have come up understanding your culture and want to be a part of your culture. We're going to spend a lot of our time focusing on what kind of player we want, what kind of character that we want in our player. We want those players to want to be here and be a part of something that's going to be very good.