Kukla's Korner Hockey
The Winnipeg Jets were busy on Monday signing seven players including right-winger Blake Wheeler to new contract. Wheeler signed a two-year deal worth $5.1 million total.
TSN also notes six other players were signed by the Jets today.
from Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun,
Could the Winnipeg Jets be turning to Mike Keane to round out their coaching staff?
With news that Ray Edwards has declined the opportunity to be an assistant under Claude Noel, there’s still at least one opening on the staff and multiple sources told The Sun on Wednesday that Keane is interested in getting behind the bench for his hometown team.
Prior to having his jersey retired by the Manitoba Moose in February, Keane hinted he was open to getting into coaching should the right opportunity arise and former Montreal Canadiens bench boss Jacques Demers believes Keane would be a natural.
From Scott Burnside at ESPN:
Despite Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold’s assertions to a local radio station earlier this week that the realignment question has been all squared away and the Winnipeg Jets would join the Minnesota Wild in a new Central Division, the relocation issue is far from being resolved.
An NHL source told ESPN.com on Wednesday it was premature to suggest any decisions have been made on how the NHL will look a year from now. Multiple sources have also told us the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg will give the NHL an opportunity to rethink its entire structure, so the realignment question will not be resolved until all parties have had their say.
continued… plus discussion on various other topics
More discussion on the issue of NHL divisions was also posted earlier today.
From Dan Steinberg at DC Sports Blog:
“It was actually a shock to me,” he told Toronto’s 590 The Fan on Tuesday. “I didn’t really know I was really being shopped around or anything like that. I just got a call from the Caps GM George McPhee, one day, and he told me I had been dealt, and he told me I’d been dealt to Winnipeg.
“Obviously I was sad when I heard I was being traded — I have a lot of friends in Washington and I’ve been there a lot of years and I really enjoyed my time there. But when he said Winnipeg ,that made it feel better pretty quick. This was just something that I think they ran out of room under the salary cap in Washington, and then some players were gonna get squeezed out and I was one of them. It’s not like I was specifically saying I wanted to come to Winnipeg or whether I wanted to be moved at all. It was just something that they felt needed to be done, and it ended up working out for me.”
Eric Fehr, who scored 43 goals over the past three seasons for the Washington Capitals despite playing mostly on the third and fourth lines, was traded to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday for minor-league forward Danick Paquette and a fourth-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft.
The trade is conditional on Fehr—who was born in Manitoba and continues to make a home there during the offseason—passing a physical with Winnipeg by 5 p.m. ET on Monday.
From Ryan Kennedy at The Hockey News:
I wonder if in all the excitement of a “clean slate” and “starting over,” the folks at True North Sports threw out too many Thrashers with the bath water. The franchise had a respected veteran NHL GM in Rick Dudley and a coach to match in Craig Ramsay. They were replaced by a team with far less elite experience. Save for two years as the assistant GM of the Chicago Blackhawks, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s resume is all AHL, as is his assistant GM’s, Craig Heisinger. Their choice for the Jets’ first bench boss was Claude Noel, whose only NHL head coaching experience came in 2009-10 as the interim bench boss in Columbus for 24 games.
Now it is true that simply recycling old talent is no guarantee of success, but it’s a bold move handing an NHL team over to an entirely AHL crew.
With all the best free agents already picked off, Winnipeg has yet to sign a signature player. The team has approximately $43 million committed to 20 players next year, meaning the Jets must spend $5 million more just to get to the salary cap floor. Re-signing restricted free agents Blake Wheeler and Zach Bogosian will get them there, but was this team moved across the continent to be a cap floor franchise?
from Leon Stafford and Dan Chapman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
Kennesaw State University associate professor and sports economist J.C. Bradbury said the decision wasn’t a shock, given the circumstances.
“Hockey is a northern sport,” he said. “It’s hot down there. I don’t think anyone is surprised hockey had trouble, especially because the team has not been great and the ownership situation is not popular with fans.”
City hospitality and business leaders tried to keep a stiff upper lip over the loss….
Greg Rancone, director of marketing for Legacy Property Group, said fans packed the company’s restaurants—Stats, Der Biergarten and Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria.
“Hockey fans are very loyal and very consistent,” he said. “We would see the same faces over and over again. And that was over 40 [home] games. That’s pretty formidable.”
Atlanta is losing the Thrashers to a Canadian province that is home to 1.2 million people, or just one-fourth the population of metro Atlanta. Winnipeg, the Cree Indian word for “muddy waters,” boasted an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in 2010.
“I never got a phone call from the Winnipeg people when they apparently bought the team. None of us did. There are always three choices: ‘We want you; we don’t want you or we really don’t know at this point because we don’t have a general manager in place.’ At least then the communication is open and you’ve spoken to the (new owners) and that didn’t happen. It’s disappointing. I think with 40 years in the business you deserve a call from them to let you know where things stand and where they think they are headed.
“The fact that they dragged it out meant there were jobs that were going by the wayside while we were under the assumption that perhaps Winnipeg was interested in bringing our group along. It was a month or more just sitting by the phone waiting for things to happen while you are under obligation not to talk to other teams because of tampering charges….”
Craig Ramsay on the new ownership in Winnipeg. More from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet.
from Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press,
It wasn’t a declaration, but more of a memo from Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to his rivals in the biz and NHL rumour-mongers everywhere:
Back off on the Bogosian-trade talk, s’il vous plait…
“I can’t really speak to what happened last year with respect to rumours, nor will I speak to any rumours regarding our team moving forward,” Cheveldayoff said. “What I can speak about is Zach is a tremendous kid. He’s a very young defenceman, and anyone who follows the game knows that defencemen mature at a different rate than other players.
“I had the fortune of having Zach on my team with the (Chicago) Wolves for about a week on a conditioning assignment when he was 18 and he was head and shoulders above everyone else out there when he was 18 years old.
The best is in front of a lot of these players, and we’re going to get a chance to watch them and hopefully (they) grow in front of our eyes.
“I went through the closet the other day and made sure all the sandals stayed left behind. “I’m going to have to go out searching for some new snow boots.
“I don’t see that as any problem. That’s the way hockey should be. Hockey’s played during the wintertime, in the freezing cold. It’s going to feel like hockey again.”
-Randy Jones, who signed to play with the Winnipeg Jets over the weekend after recently playing with the LA Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning. More on the Jets from Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press.
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