Kevin Cheveldayoff officially named Winnipeg’s new GM

The rumors began to build last week and were more or less justified yesterday, but now it’s been officially announced: Kevin Cheveldayoff will be Winnipeg’s GM. Cheveldayoff replaces former Atlanta Thrashers GM Rick Dudley, who was relieved of his duties after just one season as the team’s general manager.

Cheveldayoff spent his last two seasons as the assistant GM of the Chicago Blackhawks, but it’s possible that the biggest draw was his previous experience as the general manager of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. He ran that team – the minor league affiliate for the Atlanta Thrashers – for 12 seasons, which provides him with plenty of knowledge of the Thrashers (and therefore the Winnipeg [blanks]) prospects and homegrown talent.

He told reporters that he hopes to build a “contender for years to come.”

Speaking of contenders, he’s the latest front office member to leave the Blackhawks in the last few seasons. Dudley was also in Chicago’s front office, working under former GM Dale Tallon before current Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman took over. Here’s what Bowman said about Cheveldayoff.

“While it is never easy to lose someone of his caliber, it is a great opportunity for him and his family,” Blackhawks Vice-President/General Manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “He was a significant part of our front office and he played an integral role in the success of the Blackhawks throughout the last two years. I want to personally thank him for his dedication to our organization and certainly wish him all the best in Winnipeg.”

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of budget True North Sports and Entertainment will hand Cheveldayoff. Their goal of selling 13,000 season tickets was easily reached, so Winnipeg should be a hit at the box office if nothing else. He’ll face some interesting off-season questions, which we’ll discuss in a later post.

True North is putting their own stamp on their new franchise with this decision. Maybe one of these days, they might actually deliver on their promise of revealing the team’s name, too. (Not that we’re bitter about that, or anything.)

Video: Trisha Yearwood sings national anthem for Preds-Ducks

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Keith Urban sang the national anthem for Game 3. Kelly Clarkson did the honors for the Nashville Predators before Game 4. Next up: Trisha Yearwood for Game 6.

The Predators hope to close out the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, and they got off to a nice start with Austin Watson scoring a quick 1-0 goal. Not long after, the Predators added another to build to a 2-0 lead.

Garth Brooks spoiled Yearwood’s appearance a bit before the contest.

Brooks also revealed Yearwood’s early fan creds:

Nick Ritchie ejected after boarding, bloodying Viktor Arvidsson (Video)

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Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie scored a goal in Game 4, but he won’t be able to provide such a scoring boost for his team in Game 6.

That’s because he was ejected during the first period after hitting rising Nashville Predators star Viktor Arvidsson from behind, bloodying the slick Swede.

Ritchie was whistled for a game misconduct and major. Remarkably, the Ducks killed the entire five-minute power-play opportunity, with Ryan Kesler‘s shorthanded chance being one of the better opportunities for either team.

It’s still a big blunder, but if the Ducks can get back in it, remember that big kill.

Video of the hit is coming soon. For now, check out the GIF:

Oddly, Arvidsson left the ice with a wound that more or less spelled out “R,” presumably for Ritchie, maybe celebrating the return of “Twin Peaks.”

(Such an obvious move might not be surreal enough for David Lynch, though. Alex Prewitt’s Zorro reference might be more, um, on the mark.)

Video: Predators storm off to 2-0 lead, beguile Bernier early on

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It was already loud at Bridgestone Arena, but the Nashville Predators are making it a madhouse with a strong start against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6.

First, it was Austin Watson, who sent a puck off a Ducks skate to score a 1-0 goal on Nashville’s first shot on Jonathan Bernier, who is starting instead of John Gibson. That came about 90 seconds into the game, really revving up the crowd.

Colton Sissons scored his first goal of the Western Conference Final – on his first shot on goal of the series – to make it 2-0. At that point, Bernier had allowed two goals on three shots on goal. Bernier’s made a few stops since then, but it’s a shaky start for a Ducks team facing elimination.

There’s some solace in that Anaheim’s often at its best in dire situations, though you have to wonder how many times they can bounce back from this?

No Mike Fisher or Craig Smith for Predators in Game 6

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The Anaheim Ducks won’t have John Gibson back, but the Nashville Predators are dealing with some injury-related letdowns, too.

Craig Smith skated before Game 6, but he opted not to play on Monday. Mike Fisher is also unable to go for the Predators as they aim to eliminate Anaheim.

The Ducks also won’t have Rickard Rakell back in the mix, so this physical Western Conference Final continues to feel like a battle of attrition.

Click here for the official roster report.

Game 5 is airing on NBCSN right now. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE.