The Winnipeg Jets find themselves in the middle of a very difficult season. To the surprise of some - though not near all - the team is floundering, and for much of the season has found themselves closer to the bottom of the NHL standings than the Central Division's playoff line.
As it currently stands, the Winnipeg Jets are four points behind Nashville for a wild card spot and four points ahead of Edmonton for last in the Western Conference. This is despite the recent and stellar efforts of super-stud prospect, Connor Hellebuyck. The Jets have a mountain to climb if they want to get back into the playoff picture and climbing that mountain looks unlikely at this point.
That said, the unfortunate reality of the Jets season is that making the playoffs, this year, is likely far from Kevin Cheveldayoff's number one priority.
Andrew Ladd #nhljets tells me he knows there is a deadline where one of two things happens: new contract or a trade. More on @husterlawless— gary lawless (@garylawless) December 27, 2015
And that isn't even the big one. The Winnipeg Jets' lone All-star, Dustin Byfuglien, is likely in the same boat.
This is the stage that Kevin Cheveldayoff stands on. The battle for the playoffs requires all hands on deck and perhaps more, while the the contract status of two core players could require that they are sold. Cheveldayoff is being pulled in two different directions, both directions have the potential to result in pain and that pain may require additional security.
If Chevy sells off either Andrew Ladd or Dustin Byfuglien prior to the deadline, it is likely to result in a step backwards - not just this year, but into the future. If he trades both, that step back will likely be significant. Trading both would likely mean an even younger team next year. Trading both could very easily mean another year (or two) without playoffs.
But that is reality. That is a reality that might be hard for both fans and management to swallow.
If Kevin Cheveldayoff trades both Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien before the deadline, we are likely looking at ONE playoff appearance in his first SIX or SEVEN seasons as the team's GM. Potentially FOUR playoff games in SEVEN years. Is Chevy willing to steer the team in that direction without some reassurances?
There's the rub.
The type of move that may be needed to push this club forward might be exactly the type of move that Chevy can't make without a top down, organizational directive. This could be a move that won't be made without job security.
Regardless of who caused the mess, it needs to be cleaned up. If ownership still believes that Chevy is the guy, they need do double down on him.
This decision on Chevy is inevitable. It will be coming soon if it is coming at all. Chevy already has near five years of work on his resume. Management knows what they have - obviously the handling the situations with Byfuglien and Ladd will add a great deal of info to, but there is already a wealth of information available. If Chevy is their guys, ownership needs to step up and give Chevy the support he needs in order to make these incredibly tough decisions.
The last thing anyone wants to see is a change in strategy due to job security concerns or immediate needs.
It is nearing the time to sign him or move on. This is all part of the process.