Jets coach gets right to work

Claude Noel's first priority after the draft will be to hire assistant coaches, while GM Kevin...

Claude Noel's first priority after the draft will be to hire assistant coaches, while GM Kevin Cheveldayoff (right) will need to meet with Andrew Ladd's agent as well as those for the rest of the team's potential free agents. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency)

Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:47 PM ET

ST. PAUL, Minn. — With his job as head coach secure, Claude Noel will soon turn his attention to filling out his coaching staff.

Noel, who was unveiled as the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets on Friday, isn’t in a rush to bring his assistants on board, but expects to have them in place before long.

“I’d like to get it in sometime in July, maybe sometime in the middle (of the month),” said Noel. “I’d like to make it sooner than later but I have to talk to management and see what they think.”

It’s not known whether Manitoba Moose assistant Keith McCambridge will pursue a head coaching job in the AHL or join Noel’s staff.

As for other candidates, nobody has really emerged and Noel wasn’t giving any real hints.

“I’m not going to go through a long, long process. We’ll wait and see who we’ve got,” said Noel. “I have a pretty good idea of what I’m looking for.”

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will have some input in the decision but Noel will have the final say.

“I’m a firm believer that the coach has to feel comfortable with who he’s with,” said Cheveldayoff. “In the same breath, one thing is very apparent with all aspects of this organization, communication is going to be the key. We want everything to fit. It’s not just about my guy or your guy, those things never really come into the equation and I don’t think they’re going to come into the equation on the assistant coaches side either. We’re going to sit down, look at how the players can benefit from the different people that are brought to the table.”

TOUGH CALL: Cheveldayoff talked about the tough phone call he shared with Chicago Blackhawks assistant Mike Haviland, who was the runner-up for the job.

“Mike was a very qualified candidate,” said Cheveldayoff. “I’ve known him personally, obviously after winning a Stanley Cup championship with him. But in this situation here, you have to take personal relationships out of it.

“He was very professional and extremely thankful for the opportunity. When Zinger (director of hockey operations Craig Heisinger) and I sat down and went to the final conclusion, we said ‘we don’t think we could make a bad choice here.’ We just think this was the right choice for moving forward.”

GREGOIRE ON RADAR?: Former University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux forward Jason Gregoire, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, met with a number of teams on Friday, including the Jets.

Gregoire, 21, was originally a third round pick (76th overall) of the New York Islanders but because he was drafted as a junior player with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL and has played three seasons of college, he’ll be a free agent on July 1.

Gregoire had 57 goals, 52 assists and 109 points in 120 games with the Fighting Sioux.

Jets forward Blake Wheeler followed a similar path a few years ago, signing as a free agent with the Boston Bruins after the Phoenix Coyotes had picked him fifth overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

NO LADD MEETING HELD YET: With as crazy as it’s been the past few days for both the Jets and clients for J.P Barry, Cheveldayoff hasn’t had time to meet to discuss a contract extension for captain Andrew Ladd.

However, that should still take place before the weekend is over.

“With timing of things, we’ve been trying to schedule things and we still have a couple days left,” said Cheveldayoff. “J.P. has a lot of clients who are first round picks. He’s been pretty busy and we’ve been busy as well.”

Getting Ladd locked up on a long-term deal remains a high priority for the Jets franchise.


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