Dudley out as Winnipeg GM
Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency
|(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP)
VANCOUVER — The first domino has dropped as True North Sports and Entertainment works to finalize the members of their hockey department.
Rick Dudley, who was the general manager of the Atlanta Thrashers last season and signed a four-year extension in February, is out as general manager.
The news was first reported by Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com and True North confirmed the report when contacted Saturday night.
Dudley is known as a well-respected man in hockey circles but it’s clear that True North wanted to hire their own guys.
Chairman Mark Chipman made it clear on Tuesday that Craig Heisinger would play a “vital” role with a name to be determined and it’s looking more and more like it will be as assistant general manager and possibly director of hockey operations.
The other piece of news to come out Saturday night is that True North has been given permission to speak with Kevin Cheveldayoff, who is the assistant general manager and senior director of hockey operations for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Cheveldayoff could not be reached for comment.
Both Chipman and Heisinger have a relationship with Cheveldayoff that dates back to the International Hockey League and Heisinger was actually the equipment manager for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League when Cheveldayoff was playing junior hockey.
Cheveldayoff is also well-respected in hockey circles, guiding the Wolves to four league championships in a span of 12 seasons, two in the IHL and two in the American Hockey League.
Cheveldayoff joined the Blackhawks in August of 2009 and was part of their Stanley Cup championship last June.
In order to leave the Blackhawks organization, Cheveldayoff would likely require a promotion, which is why he’s a great candidate to become the general manager.
Once a promising defenceman who was a first round draft pick by the New York Islanders in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, Cheveldayoff’s career was cut short by a serious knee injury but he stayed involved in the game and he appears to be closing in on his first NHL general manager job.
With the NHL Entry Draft less than three weeks away, True North is going to need to make some critical decisions in the coming days and general manager is the first one they’re likely to announce.
The decision to remove Dudley has to make head coach Craig Ramsay a little uneasy.
Ramsay hadn’t been contacted by True North as of Friday and didn’t respond to a message on Saturday.