WINNIPEG – Winnipeg’s new NHL franchise has its first general manager.
A league source requesting anonymity said Tuesday the yet unnamed Winnipeg club has hired Kevin Cheveldayoff as its GM. Cheveldayoff will join the Winnipeg squad after serving as the assistant GM of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Scott Brown, a spokesman for True North Sports and Entertainment Limited—which owns the Winnipeg club—declined comment Tuesday.
But the source said the NHL team will make the move official Wednesday.
Cheveldayoff, 41, a native of Blaine Lake, Sask., has experienced no shortage of hockey success as an executive.
He guided the Chicago Wolves to a pair of Turner Cup titles in the International Hockey League as well as two Calder Cup championships (American Hockey League) before joining the Chicago Blackhawks front office.
He was part of the Chicago club that captured last year’s Stanley Cup.
Cheveldayoff was a defenceman selected in the first round, 16th overall, by the New York Islanders in the 1988 NHL entry draft. He began his career with the AHL’s Capital District Islanders, serving as an assistant captain 1991-’93.
He had a similar role with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles in 1993-’94, earning the team’s Unsung Hero Award. But he was forced to retire after five pro seasons the result of a knee injury.
Cheveldayoff’s brother, Ken, is a prominent Saskatchewan politician. He is the province’s Minister of First Nations and Metis Relations, Minister Responsible for Northern Affairs and Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation.
Ken Cheveldayoff wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear his younger sibling had become an NHL GM.
“I’ve always believed he had the focus and dedication to become a general manager in the NHL at some point,” he told reporters in Regina. “He grew up very early.
“He left home at 14 years old to move to Saskatoon to play midget hockey, left at 16 years old to play in Brandon, Man., and was living in New York by 18 years old and then involved in hockey management over the last 15 years or so . . . I’m very excited for him and his family.”
That prompted a reporter to ask which of the Cheveldayoff brothers now has the coolest job?
“I think I’d have to let the media decide on that one,” Ken Cheveldayoff said, drawing chuckles from the assembled reporters. “Judging by the number of emails I’ve received in the last 72 hours probably being a GM in the NHL is pretty cool.”
A Chicago Blackhawks carpet adorned the floor in Cheveldayoff’s office and there was a pennant on the wall. But he said he’ll “absolutely” switch allegiances to Winnipeg now that his brother is with that club.