Kevin Cheveldayoff has a tough task in trying to establish a new identity for the Winnipeg Jets franchise.
But he has them on the right path.
A new identity is something that will go a long way for a franchise that is still haunted with past disappointments, as naysayers and fans around the league still think of this team as a certain someone's leftovers—Atlanta Thrashers
Still, the fact remains the same—the Winnipeg Jets are the Atlanta Thrashers.
The only thing that’s changed is the city and the team name.
It’s all well and good that the great fans of Winnipeg can enjoy hockey once again, but the point I’m trying to make is that the past 12 seasons in Atlanta aren’t forgotten.
The mediocrity of the past doesn't just go away because a team has been moved to a different city.
Old habits die hard.
What does it take? How long does it take? What does Cheveldayoff have to do for the Jets to avoid the same fate as the Thrashers?
One might ask, "What does Cheveldayoff have to do so that the Jets don’t share the same fate as the old Winnipeg Jets who were eventually relocated to Phoenix?"
It’s not about not having the same fate as the old Winnipeg Jets. The ownership is in place, the staff is in place.
What does he have to do so that the Jets don’t end up like the Thrashers?
That’s the main focus.
Disappointment for 12 seasons, one playoff appearance, superstars coming and going, coaches coming and going, failing to re-sign certain players… a list that I’ll cut short because I could probably write a novel on the topic.
What does Cheveldayoff have to do so that Winnipeg doesn’t have to experience another 12 years of mediocrity?
Of course, organizational changes have been made and the Jets aren’t exactly a carbon copy of the Thrashers from last season. The arena atmosphere, the coaching staff and some players have started this change, but the losing trends of the Thrashers have to be the focus.
Even if it doesn't appear clear, the Jets still have—and will have for quite a while—the pressure and adversity that faced the Thrashers.
At least until Cheveldayoff and the Jets overcome it.
One hump this franchise has failed to overcome is likely where it all begins—winning a playoff game.
That’s something the Thrashers have failed to do for 12 seasons. And the reality is they’ve only made the playoffs once in that span.
Cheveldayoff has already helped make this season a bright one. In fact, the beginning of a new era could take place by the end of this regular season.
And if it doesn't, well no one expected it to happen in a season.
But Cheveldayoff is the man who does it all.
Through drafting, trades, free agency, re-signing players, etc., it comes down to Cheveldayoff and what he can do, as opposed to what Don Waddell couldn't.
There have already been many noticeable differences with this year’s Jets as opposed to last year’s Thrashers. Trends that the Jets can't afford to carry over.
The one that sticks out the most is the Jets ability to show up and win big regular season games—games in which the Thrashers always had a letdown.
And then there are trends that surface every now and then and assure me the Thrashers still exists—like inconsistency, playing style.
There's a long way to go for the Winnipeg Jets, and with the young talent they have, I don't think there's any question to how good the Jets can be.
It comes down to Cheveldayoff.
It's a matter of not making the same mistakes as the Thrashers.
I don't think anyone wants to suffer for 12 seasons of mediocrity.
To say Cheveldayoff's job is important is quite the understatement.