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GM Kevin Cheveldayoff reflects on 2016 for the Winnipeg Jets

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff spoke with Dennis Beyak during the TSN broadcast on the year that was in 2016.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff spoke with voice of the Jets on TSN Dennis Beyak prior to the game between the Jets and the Canucks yesterday.  The interview was aired during the 2nd intermission of the TSN broadcast reflecting on the year that was in 2016 for Winnipeg.

On the Jets youth movement:

“We made the decision, obviously, with Nikolaj Ehlers.  I think it really goes back to that point, where it was his first year last year and the decision was made that we weren’t going to send him back to junior. (Give him) The opportunity for him to play and learn on a regular basis. When the calendar turned to 2016 I think we really saw him take off. Then obviously those things did come into play. Brandon Tanev was a very exciting opportunity for us to be able to sign him, we had tracked him all year. The college free agent market sometimes yields some players that fit and sometimes they don’t. Here it did and it’s been a real positive thing for us. And then Kyle Connor, just the year that he had in college, it was great to watch him play. And really I guess when the calendar did turn to 2016 for him is when he really took off. So a lot of good things started in that regard and then came to fruition in the signings at the appropriate times.”

On winning the lottery to pick second:

“I can’t tell you what it’s like to win a million dollars but I certainly can tell you what it’s like to have won the opportunity to draft a player that can help move a franchise forward exponentially. I think the grin says it all still right when it happened. You wanted to do some fist pumps but you also had to show some decorum. If the camera was on me during the television commercial you’d have seen a lot of excitement there. But again it’s just that opportunity, that little bit of luck, I think really came into play by the way we finished the season last year. By no means was it something that you’re happy with how you finished but I think the way we finished out the final games and how hard we played, really it did give us that opportunity to have the lottery balls fall the way they did.”

Has Patrik Laine surpassed his expectations?

“We were very conscious about not putting a lot of expectations on him. We studied a lot of top end players and how they were handled and what you want to do and not want to do. We were very fortunate that, again, we were all on board with the fact that this player was going to come in here, earn his opportunities to play. That was something that his representatives, and certainly when we talked with Patrik early on, he just wanted to do, he wanted to come in and play. There was no billboard campaign or how much is he going to score or what he’s going to do! At the end of the day he performs and whatever he’s gotten, he’s earned.”

What did the Heritage Classic mean for the organization?

“I still remember when we first talked about it and there had been years and years of planning and trying to get it to come into play.  I think as an organization, obviously, it was an exciting time, I think, for the city and just showcasing what a great organization there is, what a great city it is.  But more so, I think the thing that we really feel fortunate about is being able to re-connect with the alumni.  We had always talked about, since we moved back to Winnipeg, how do we do it?  How do we make it right?  Simply hanging banners or having nights, those kinds of things, certainly they’re wonderful, but the Heritage Classic and what better way to celebrate the heritage of hockey in Winnipeg.  Having the great names of Dale Hawkerchuk, Teemu Selanne, all those guys that came back that really were the stars of those years.  And to see them never really miss a beat come back and spend the time, talk about the city and feel so excited to be back in Winnipeg.  That’s what I’m going to remember about the Heritage Classic.”

Assessing the first 34 games.

“There is some tremendous excitement in some of the young players that are here but the reality is we are trying to win each and every game and its important that we find a way to get on a roll at some point and time here. Certainly would love to change some of those streaks that go in the wrong direction but that’s all part of it and if we can get the roster healthy here I’m looking forward to taking a run.”