This afternoon Kevin Cheveldayoff took to the podium in front of local media members to discuss his decision to fire Claude Noel as the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets.
From there, he also discussed what he saw in new interim head coach Paul Maurice, where he saw this team going forward and his culpability in the dismissal of Claude Noel from and Perry Pearn from his coaching staff.
Here is the abridged version of his press conference.
When asked how he came to the decision to let Claude Noel go.
Over the course of a period of time there was certain levels of expectations we had collectively for our group of players and individually for players and it became apparent over the last little while that things were not trending in the right direction. We were going to have to do something to try and move things back into a fashion of moving forward.
When asked how long Paul Maurice had been on his radar.
I ended up reaching out to Paul after the Tampa Bay game just to see if he would have an interest. He took over the Carolina Hurricanes at one point during the middle of the season and did a good job. At that point in time it still wasn't something I was ready to do but last night I went to ownership and talked to them about making the change. I then talked to Paul over the phone at quite length and came to an agreement.
When asked what he told the players.
The nuts and bolts of the meeting will stay in the room but generally speaking anytime that good people lose their job there's responsibility that has to be taken by everybody. We talked about the life of being in professional sports and the accountability and levels that people are held to in those regards. We talked about how it's not always fair but there are realities that each and everyone of them and certainly all of us need to look at how we can be better and see where maybe things could be done differently.
When asked if the decision to fire Noel was his alone.
I made the decision, yes, with lots of conversation with my staff and ownership.
When asked what type of character or skills Maurice possessed that Noel didn't.
I'm not going to get into what Claude didn't do because Claude did a lot. He is a very special person, a very caring person and worked extremely hard. The fact that I'm standing here today isn't so much about what he didn't do. Moving forward obviously Paul is someone that has good experience at the NHL level. He's coached a lot of different types of teams and has had success with both veteran and young players. He's experienced both success and failure but he's battle-hardened and he's energetic and has been champing at the bit to get back into the NHL. This is something that none of us take lightly and from that standpoint we're very fortunate to have someone like Paul coming in at this time.
When asked if his team needs a tougher coach.
I don't know that it's that you need a disciplinarian or a players coach, you need someone that can get to the players. Someone that can teach to them. Someone that can actually get their message across and get the players to unite. They're twenty-five individual athletes who all have different talents and abilities. As a coach at the NHL level, one of the talents that you have to possess is being able to unite all those different thoughts, feelings, talents, skills and push them in the right direction.
When asked if Claude was surprised by the firing.
Claude was very respectful. We had a brief conversation that didn't carry on too long today and agreed that we would hook up over the course of several days to get into the nuts and bolts of all those things. Certainly for him and me we has some history together so it was very difficult in that regard. He didn't question the decision, he was a professional as he always is and I was very thankful and respectful of that.
When asked about the role of player effort in Noel's firing.
Well it was certainly a contributing factor in the sense that there was a lot of players that even singled themselves out for different things. But this wasn't about just the last two games. It was the consistency factor. We always asked ourselves internally why .500? Why one ahead, one back? Two ahead, two back? It's something we've talked about tremendously and it's going to continue to be talked about until we get things going in the right direction. Will further changes have to be made over the course of time? Sure. But right now is all about what is going to be the best direction for those changes going forward.
When asked if Maurice will have full control over roster decisions.
Paul has the unique ability of being in the media and paying close attention to all the Canadian teams. I think that in our conversations he was very in tune with our team from an arms length situation. He's going to have some extensive meetings with the coaches tomorrow and he has reached out to them and talked to them about their opinions. There are some limitations on the injury side of things that could play into some different things but he's going to be allowed to coach. Him and I will sit down and have some candid conversations about each and every player moving forward.
When asked about the job he's done thus far as General Manager.
My job is still a work in progress. Certianly for me, it wasn't a good day to be able to sit across and tell Claude we were doing this. Would I have liked to be able to have some pieces that clicked a little bit better for him? Absoultely. But there are some realities to our roster that we faced when we took the roster over. We have made some changes and going forward we will continue to make different changes. Again, there's only so much that you can do at certain periods of time. We see two young players in our line-up right now that were our first two first round draft picks in franchise history and they're in making contributions. They earned those spots as young players and they've grown and for us to continue to get better we're going to have to find more players like that to push. We're going to need to push from St. John's. We need to get younger players into our system that push the NHL roster.
When asked if he did everything he could to help Noel succeed.
If I'm being honest I would say no. I've sat back over the course of twenty-four hours and asked "Can I do something else?" What I have to be cognizant of is that I don't do something that pushes the franchise backward from an asset standpoint. Again, this is not without responsibility on my side. I ultimately made the call, I understand that and don't take that lightly. I believe having Paul coaching our group moving forward is going to help push us as our management staff going forward. There's going to be outside eyes coming in and critically evaluating this roster and that's going to help us to make informed decisions moving forward.
When asked if he expected changing the culture would be so difficult.
In order for change to happen you need to keep doing things that people believe in and that show results. Until we can start getting the results that we need out of this, the culture change is extremely difficult. You don't just flip the switch and change the culture. Now we need to take a good hard look at where we've come from and where we want to go.
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