Report: True North offers newly vacated GM job to Chicago assistant Kevin Cheveldayoff

We’re still waiting to find out what the Winnipeg team’s name will be, but perhaps True North Sports and Entertainment should keep a simple goal in mind. If nothing else, they need to make their team name easier to spell than the name of their potential new GM.

The Winnipeg Free Press backs up previous rumors that the new team is looking to add Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to fill Rick Dudley’s vacated position. Gary Lawless states that “several sources” confirmed the rumor but didn’t mention names, so it’s far from official but could very well be true.

If that indeed comes to pass, it’s rather interesting that the Winnipeg team will replace a Blackhawks product (Dudley, who worked closely with former ‘Hawks GM and current Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon) with another Blackhawks front office member in Cheveldayoff. Lawless provides a little more background on Cheveldayoff.

Cheveldayoff has held the position of assistant GM and senior director of hockey operations with the Chicago Blackhawks for two years and was part of that organization’s Stanley Cup winning management team in 2009-10.

Here is a little more from his bio on the Blackhawks Web site.

Before joining the Blackhawks on Aug. 3, 2009, Cheveldayoff spent the previous 12 seasons as the general manager of the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves, guiding the franchise to four league championships, which included the 2008 and 2002 AHL Calder Cups and 2000 and 1998 IHL Turner Cups. Overall, the Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan native has been a part of six league championships during his 15-year management career, which includes two Turner Cups in three seasons as the assistant vice president of hockey operations and assistant coach for the Denver and Utah Grizzlies (1995-96).

Cheveldayoff was the architect of 12 Wolves teams that compiled a .615 regular-season winning percentage (544-320-114) and ten postseason berths from 1997 to 2009. Eight of those clubs reached the 100-point mark during the regular season while earning four division titles and six postseason conference championships.

Without knowing many specifics about which specific decisions Cheveldayoff made, it seems like his ascension might be a bit rapid. Then again, he did spend a long time as an AHL GM and it’s not as if we haven’t seen examples of quick learners at the position this season. Just look at the fantastic work Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has done in his first campaign if you’re wondering if someone call pull off such a quick climb.

That being said, Cheveldayoff won’t inherit players on the level of Steven Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, either. Dustin Byfuglien is an interesting (if odd) talent, Evander Kane has some promise and the Thrashers have a few other decent pieces in place, but Cheveldayoff will face a tough challenge to construct a winning team from the current ingredients if he does indeed become the new GM.

Naturally, he hasn’t accepted the position (if it was indeed offered) yet, but the Free Press claims that he should make his decision soon. We’ll let you know if/when that happens.

Penguins avoid collapse, beat Preds in crazy Stanley Cup Final opener

Getty
18 Comments

PITTSBURGH — The game of hockey can be crazy at times.

Then you have nights like Monday, when it gets really crazy.

In a game that often made no sense at all, the Penguins built up a 3-0 lead, blew that lead, then rallied late to beat Nashville 5-3 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

So, uh, where to even begin with this?

Let’s start with the game-winner. Jake Guentzel, who was on the verge of being a healthy scratch for tonight’s affair, scored with less than four minutes remaining to snap an eight-game goalless drought.

Now, consider the circumstances under which this goal was scored.

Guentzel was facing tremendous pressure to get his offense going. And the shot he scored on was Pittsburgh’s first in 37 minutes of action. During that time, the Pens recorded the first zero-shot playoff period since NHL began tracking SOG in 1957-58.

Guentzel’s goal also came after Nashville had staged a furious, wild three-goal rally to even things up.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissions and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Preds, with Sissions and Gaudreau finding the back of the net less than four minutes apart in the final frame. Gaudreau, who up until a few weeks ago was playing in the Calder Cup playoffs, looked as though he was primed to become the next unlikely postseason hero.

But it wasn’t to be.

Because there were other equally unlikely developments on the night.

Heck, we haven’t discussed the first period yet. Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary and Nick Bonino scored in a span of 4:11 in the opening frame, a flurry filled with fortuitous bounces and breaks. Malkin’s tally came on a 5-on-3 man advantage, after Calle Jarnkrok and James Neal were whistled for simultaneous penalties. Bonino’s marker was an own goal, knocked in by Preds d-man Mattias Ekholm.

Oh, and there was that disallowed marker.

Perhaps you heard? It was an ignominious start for the NHL on its biggest stage. Seven minutes in, the Preds looked to have taken a 1-0 lead when P.K. Subban‘s blast beat Matt Murray. But hold on. Pens head coach Mike Sullivan quickly challenged and, upon review, it was deemed that Filip Forsberg entered the Pittsburgh zone illegally.

More, from the NHL’s situation room blog:

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesmen, NHL Hockey Operations staff determined that Forsberg preceded the puck into the attacking zone, nor did he have possession and control before crossing the blue line.

This ruling came just hours after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman defended offside challenges in his state-of-the-league address.

Crazy is right. And fitting, given what transpired tonight.

Video: Guentzel, Penguins regain lead after 37-minute shot drought

14 Comments

Luck keeps going the Pittsburgh Penguins’ way in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Nashville Predators kept firing away at Matt Murray, holding the Penguins without a shot on goal for a whopping 37 minutes and managing to tie the contest 3-3 after falling behind 3-0.

It was a ridiculous display … and then Pittsburgh got its next shot.

Jake Guentzel scored on that attempt, roofing it past a struggling Pekka Rinne. It’s the sort of thing you can’t even dream up.

Pittsburgh also added an empty-net goal, so Nashville needs an epic final 30 seconds if they hope to avoid a crushing Game 1 loss.

Predators hold Penguins without a shot in second, now down 3-1 in Game 1

6 Comments

There’s little sense denying the Pittsburgh Penguins’ luck through 40 minutes against the Nashville Predators in Game 1.

Through the first period, some favorable calls and a lucky bounce or two helped Pittsburgh generate a stunning 3-0 lead. Pittsburgh ended the opening frame with a burst of activity after a strong start to the Stanley Cup Final by Nashville.

The Predators regained their composure and confidence in the second, resulting in a dominant display on the ice (if not on the scoreboard).

The Penguins only managed couldn’t even manage a single, measly shot on goal against Pekka Rinne during the middle frame, but unfortunately for Nashville, some dominant puck possession only resulted in a goal by Ryan Ellis.

A 3-1 deficit is digestible, if frustrating, for Nashville. We’ll see if they can get back into Game 1 in the third period.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Video: Calls go Penguins’ way early in Game 1; own goal plagues Predators

23 Comments

However you feel about the context of each call, it’s tough to deny that some big decisions ended up going favorably early for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

To start, a would-be 1-0 goal by P.K. Subban was waved off thanks to Filip Forsberg being deemed offside. More on that here.

In a rare span, the Predators were whistled for two penalties during the same sequence in the first period, giving the Penguins a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes. Pittsburgh started off the advantage a little rocky, but then Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0. (Video of that tally in the headline above.)

The controversy comes as Sidney Crosby seemed to get away with interference/elbow shortly before that goal was scored. That sequence will feed a conspiracy theory or two.

The Predators have managed to avoid tough stretches for much of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but things seemed to really escalate from there. The Penguins managed three goals in a staggering 4:11 of game time, with Nick Bonino putting a puck off Mattias Ekholm for a painful own goal, making it 3-0 as the first period concluded.

The Penguins seemed to take control of the game after that disallowed goal, adding to the argument that some combination of the decision and the slowdown helped turn the tide.

How will the Predators respond to this adversity in Game 1? Find out on NBC and via the stream below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE