No atmosphere of entitlement with Jets

Brendan McCarthy
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Keith McCambridge — File photo

Keith McCambridge knows the frustration of a professional hockey player stuck on a low rung on the organizational ladder. Taken in the eighth round, 201st overall by Calgary in the 1994 National Hockey League Entry Draft, McCambridge was a solid, if unspectacular, defenceman for 461 games at the top level of the minor leagues, but never got a call-up to the NHL.

He doesn’t bitch about how things did — or didn’t — turn out for him personally as a player. However, now that McCambridge is head coach of the American Hockey League’s St. John’s IceCaps, he has no trouble expressing how pleased he is to be working in what he describes “a different atmosphere,” for the parent Winnipeg Jets.

“One of the things that has been made clear within the Jets’ organization, is that it will be a player’s ability, not his contract status, not where he was drafted, that will determine if he gets called up or sent down,” said McCambridge.

“We’ve all seen — I’ve seen — times where a player gets called up to the NHL from the farm, but he wasn’t the best player at his position on the AHL club. We know he got the call mainly because he was a first-round pick or because he had a one-way contract.

“That won’t be the case in Winnipeg. The Jets are developing a culture where performance brings rewards.

“And that’s certainly the way it should be.”

McCambridge agrees such a policy is easier to implement with the Jets, seeing nobody in the NHL team’s upper management or coaching group were with the franchise when it was the Atlanta Thrashers. They are mostly unencumbered by the pro hockey politics that often lead to general managers promoting prospects who were high draft picks under their watch in an effort to justify their selections, or to them keeping undeserving players on the NHL roster mainly because they are on a one-way deal and want to avoid explaining to the owner why someone they signed is in the AHL making a million or two annually.

“Sure, that is a big part of it,” said McCambridge, “but with Winnipeg, you also have people (general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger) who know very well what it’s like to be on the other side of those situations and how frustrating it can be.”

We’ve all seen — I’ve seen — times where a player gets called up to the NHL from the farm, but he wasn’t the best player at his position on the AHL club. We know he got the call mainly because he was a first-round pick or because he had a one-way contract. Keith McCambridge, St. John’s IceCaps head coach

Chevaldayoff is a former GM of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, while Heisinger held the same position with the Manitoba Moose and continues to do so with the IceCaps.

According to McCambridge, the Jets’ stated attitude will make his job that much easier.

“As a coach, it’s a huge motivational tool to have players realize the main factor in how they progress in the organization will be based on how they play. It’s a card I can play here and it’s something that can be used in Winnipeg, where players who might be on the bubble know they’ll have to perform to stay there,” he said.

•••••

McCambridge and IceCaps assistant coach Mark Morrison will be on the bench with Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel when a Jets’ split squad takes on the Nashville Predators Saturday in Tennessee. On Sunday, that same group will travel to St. John’s, where the Jets play the Ottawa Senators in the C.B.S.-hosted Kraft Hockeyville preseason game Monday evening at Mile One Centre. After that, McCambridge and Morrison will be completely focused on the IceCaps, whose training camp begins Tuesday.

McCambridge expects the IceCaps’ to start camp with 26 players, but the numbers and makeup of the roster will certainly fluctuate as the Jets make cuts, the first of which came Thursday, when they sent six teenagers back to their junior teams, released tryout forward Levko Koper and formally assigned forward Mike Kirkpatrick, signed to an AHL contract with the IceCaps ,to St. John’s.

By the time the 2011-12 AHL season is ready to begin Oct. 7, McCambridge would like to be managing a roster of 24 players — 14 forwards, eight defenceman and two goalies. That’s one or two more than most teams might carry, but the IceCaps’ coach says the number reflects the issue of geography and the distance needed to move players between St. John’s and Winnipeg and between St. John’s and Loveland, Colo., home of the Colorado Eagles, the Jets’ ECHL affiliate.

 

bmcc@thetelegram.com

Twitter@telybrendan

Organizations: Winnipeg Jets, American Hockey League, IceCaps NHL National Hockey League Entry Draft Atlanta Thrashers Manitoba Moose Nashville Predators Ottawa Senators

Geographic location: Winnipeg, Calgary, Tennessee Loveland, Colo.

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Frank
    September 27, 2011 - 10:25

    Trouty..its fine if they pull out after a year or two? They'd have to pay us money? Who is "us"? You getting money out of it if they pull out? Danny can buy the team all he wants, but good luck getting an NHL team to put their prospects way out in Newfoundland on a long term basis. It doesn't make sense for them. The Jets were desperate and had no other options. Steve-O, no other team has a commute to and from their farm team like the Jets have. 3.5 hour flight to Toronto, then another 2.5 hour flight to Winnipeg. That's terrible, they won't do it for the long term.

  • Jordan D
    September 24, 2011 - 03:18

    On ur side DAVID W, and GRANT SHARP, i know eh? its obvoius jealousy and haters from the slums of society that are quick to say negative comments. I am from Winnipeg and we have had our fair share of negative criticism as well, from the ppl of Atlanta and believe it or not, ppl from Alberta, Minnesota, and folks from Quebec City! our own hockey lovin brothers! Skeptical and quick to say that the Jets will only last 5 yrs at best they say. What gave them a right to hate? We were sad to see the Nordiques leave, we were happy Minnesota got a team back, we were happy (for the Cdn game only) that the Oilers did not leave for Houston. Even though i was sad to see my Moose leave, I was happy to learn that another great hockey city (St. John's) that lost a team before was to recieve my beloved Moose. Treat em nice St John's, we friendly Manitobans will support the Ice Caps and good luck! GO JETS GO!!! GO CAPS GO!!!

  • Jordan D
    September 24, 2011 - 03:08

    On ur side DAVID W, and GRANT SHARP, i know eh? its obvoius jealousy and haters from the slums of society that are quick to say negative comments. I am from Winnipeg and we have had our fair share of negative criticism as well, from the ppl of Atlanta and believe it or not, ppl from Alberta, Minnesota, and folks from Quebec City! our own hockey lovin brothers! Skeptical and quick to say that the Jets will only last 5 yrs at best they say. What gave them a right to hate? We were sad to see the Nordiques leave, we were happy Minnesota got a team back, we were happy (for the Cdn game only) that the Oilers did not leave for Houston. Even though i was sad to see my Moose leave, I was happy to learn that another great hockey city (St. John's) that lost a team before was to recieve my beloved Moose. Treat em nice St John's, we friendly Manitobans will support the Ice Caps and good luck! GO JETS GO!!! GO CAPS GO!!!

  • trouty
    September 23, 2011 - 15:10

    Hey Frank if they wanna pull out after a year that's fine.They signed 3 yrs and r then would pay us for breaking contract.True North is looking at selling the team to us soon,then we can't move the AHL could only fold us,but I'm pretty sure Glen never came home for 3 yrs only

  • Steve-O
    September 23, 2011 - 14:26

    The travel is a bit of a concern for alot of teams, and from what I understand is that everyone at the BOG of the AHL are totally happy with us having a team back here. Los Angeles, San Jose, and Phoenix aren't exactly close to Manchester, Portland and Worcester either and are farther then that distance. Because business ventures like this there were these things invented whats the name again oh yeah Airplanes.

  • Grant Sharp
    September 23, 2011 - 11:17

    It is painfully obvious that people making negative comments on this and other sites are jealous... either a) Because they were not in a position to get season tickets or b) Because they (like many of my buddies) tried to get into P3 during the drive to 13000. @Robert - The team has sold out the MTS for the next 5 years... at some of the highest ticket prices in the league... David Thompson owns Bell media... aka Globe & Mail....aka CTV... aka TSN... They have there own channel, a decent sized market and merchandise sales are through the roof across the country. Do you really think travel which accounts for a relatively small portion of their operating budget is going to "sink" the team after one year? Come on man, do yourself a favor and jump on the "Band Wagon" there is lots of room for everyone! & @Frank - True north has no need to leave St Johns and it doesn't flow with there corporate identity. There were tonnes of places where they could have put the ice caps. They chose St John's because it was the best long term solution and had supported AHL hockey well in the past. They will not leave that market any time soon.

    • Robert
      September 24, 2011 - 08:07

      Ummmm, I wasn't talking about selling out the MTS centre for the next 5 years, owing a TV channel, or big deals with corporations. that's the WINNIPEG JETS. The Leafs are one of the riches teams in the league, and they pulled out of here because of the cost of moving players. As for "tonnes of places they could have put the Ice Caps" I call your attention to an article a couple of months ago in this very paper, where the head of True North said that if this deal with Danny fell through, the team would go dark for at least a year. Sounds like a guy with lots of options.

  • Grant Sharp
    September 23, 2011 - 11:16

    It is painfully obvious that people making negative comments on this and other sites are jealous... either a) Because they were not in a position to get season tickets or b) Because they (like many of my buddies) tried to get into P3 during the drive to 13000. @Robert - The team has sold out the MTS for the next 5 years... at some of the highest ticket prices in the league... David Thompson owns Bell media... aka Globe & Mail....aka CTV... aka TSN... They have there own channel, a decent sized market and merchandise sales are through the roof across the country. Do you really think travel which accounts for a relatively small portion of their operating budget is going to "sink" the team after one year? Come on man, do yourself a favor and jump on the "Band Wagon" there is lots of room for everyone! & @Frank - True north has no need to leave St Johns and it doesn't flow with there corporate identity. There were tonnes of places where they could have put the ice caps. They chose St John's because it was the best long term solution and had supported AHL hockey well in the past. They will not leave that market any time soon.

  • David W
    September 23, 2011 - 09:48

    It's funny the naysayers are saying the IceCaps won't be here for more than a year or two when they have signed a three year agreement. Shows how much they know!

  • swervinmervin
    September 23, 2011 - 08:17

    Per website ontheforecheck.com (not affiliated with the Jets), Winnipeg's travel is only 10th worst (out of 30) this year, despite playing in the worst possible division **this year only**. The NHL will realign for next year, moving Winnipeg into the Western Conference, where it belongs geographically. If they do the right thing and have the Jets playing teams in the midwest (or even Calgary or Edmonton), the Jets travel should be about average among all 30 teams. This statistic was carried in Ed Tait's Winnipeg Free Press article today, online edition tomorrow.

  • Frank
    September 23, 2011 - 08:04

    Of course there's talk of geography, its going to be a huge issue for the crowd in Winnipeg, and rightly so. They cannot have their farm team so far away for more than a year or two. This is a short term deal for the Jets as they had nowhere else to put their farm team. And this is a short term money-maker for Mr. Williams.

    • Ben
      September 23, 2011 - 09:27

      Don't ya just love people like Frank with the negative comments about everything. Jeez, give me a break.

    • Frank
      September 23, 2011 - 10:42

      Its not being negative, Ben, its opening my eyes and seeing this for what it is. Its not blindly following and cheering for anything Mr. Williams says is great. Fact is, the Jets had nowhere else to go. Fact is, having their farm team so far away is not a desirable situation for any NHL team. Fact is, Mr. Williams is in this for a bit of fun and to make some money. Add to that, AHL hockey isn't very exciting most nights, and the hype is going to wear off quickly. It all adds up to a short term deal.

    • Jordan D
      September 24, 2011 - 03:17

      Worcester Sharks of the AHL and the San Jose Sharks are getting along just fine, and yet they on opposite sides of the North American continent, ditto with the Canucks and the Moose. This would not be an issue with the Ice Caps and the Jets, come on man educate urself

    • Frank
      September 25, 2011 - 15:38

      Actually Jordan, you need to educate yourself. No team has a longer, more demanding commute to and from their farm team than the Winnipeg Jets. They're in St. John's because they needed a place in a hurry. They had no other options. Its far from an ideal situation for them, and therefore its short term. Lets open our eyes, people.

  • Robert
    September 23, 2011 - 07:34

    Camp hasn't even started and there's talk of Geography. Enjoy this season, there won't be a second one.

    • KL
      September 23, 2011 - 08:28

      If you read more closely, you will see they are not complaining about geography, but mitigating potential problems caused by it by carrying more players. By being proactive like this, the team will be around for alot longer than one season.

    • Chris
      September 23, 2011 - 09:45

      The only reason you speak so boldly with such a stupid opinion, Robert, is because you're faceless on the internet and no one can rub it in your face when you're wrong. Must be pretty sad, requiring being negative to feel fulfilled in your lousy existence.

    • Bill
      September 23, 2011 - 10:39

      They have a three year agreemnet with the Jets - and the AHL is not the Q. The q is still not back

    • Robert
      September 24, 2011 - 08:12

      OK, I stand corrected. Enjoy the next three seasons, there won't be a fourth. @KL I didn't say they were complaining, I said there was talk of Maybe YOU should read more closely. @Chris So nice to have a mature discussion, maybe we can continue after gym class?