Isles Files

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When Winnipeg GM Cheveldayoff was Isles prospect

Here's remembering when Kevin Cheveldayoff, the new Winnipeg GM, was a hard-working Islanders prospect. If nothing else, the guy was tenacious.



Newsday (New York)

September 13, 1990, Thursday, ALL EDITIONS

Islander Overcomes Ruts On the Long Road Back

BYLINE: By Mark Herrmann


LENGTH: 613 words

Every daunting training-camp sprint is a treat for Kevin Cheveldayoff. Every extra lap is a blessing. "That whole year I was out, I would have given anything just to go out and skate," he said.

No matter whether the 20-year-old defenseman from Brandon, Manitoba, makes the Islanders' roster this season, he already has traveled further than anyone else in camp.

"People said I'd have trouble walking again. They said I'd probably have to use a cane," he said, referring to his injury, in which he tore all the ligaments in his left knee when he collided with a Spokane player along the boards.

That occurred on Jan. 1, 1989, little more than six months after the Islanders made him a No. 1 draft pick. But after surgery and a rigorous rehabilitation program, he rejoined his junior team last New Year's Eve for a game against Spokane. Now he's trying to make the next big step.

"Every day out, it's getting better and better," he said yesterday, preparing for the first half of a home-and-home series with Devils rookies.

"With the procedures the doctors did, it's like having rubber bands down there holding my knee together," he said. "I know what makes it feel bad and I know what feels good, and so far, knock on wood, everything has felt good."

Perhaps the greatest measure of his progress came Tuesday, when he played every other shift in the excruciatingly intense 80-minute final of the Islanders' intra-team tournament. Not only did his knee hold up, it never crossed his mind "until I took my brace off after the game," he said.

"He's played smart; he hasn't tried to do too much. He's been very good," said general manager Bill Torrey, who nevertheless must assess Cheveldayoff in light of a crowded group of major league-caliber defensemen.

Cheveldayoff has handled higher odds and tougher jobs, according to Pete Brandel of East Northport, who reasons that someone who can make boys aged 11 and 9 enjoy going to physical therapy can do just about anything.

Two of Brandel's sons, Tommy and Steven - recovering from serious injuries after a car accident - met Cheveldayoff at a therapist's office. Rather than brushing them off with an autograph and a "See ya, kids" smirk, he talked with them for more than half an hour - then accepted the first of many dinner invitations. In letters to the family, Cheveldayoff closes with the inscription, "Your Adopted Islander."

Describing Cheveldayoff's part in his sons' rehabilitation, Brandel said: "He took something that could have been drudgery and he made it into a more positive experience."

Which pretty well sums up Cheveldayoff's past two years, too.

RW Patrick Flatley, whose importance to the Islanders is demonstrated by their 2-13-3 record in games he missed last season, yesterday signed a multiyear contract . . . C Hubie McDonough, who has been out since suffering an injury to his right knee in the training-camp opener Saturday, was awaiting results on the magnetic resonance imaging test he underwent yesterday . . . RW Brad Dalgarno, who lost several teeth to a high stick Saturday, participated in drills, then went to be fitted for a bridge.

New Islander D Craig Ludwig is a national-class softball player who participates in five leagues and spends summer weekends traveling to major tournaments. A power-hitting third baseman and outfielder, he said his team has won its last five tournaments. He said softball is his way of staying in shape, because his hometown, Eagle River, Wis., has no summer skating facility. In Sherbrooke, Quebec, this summer, he played before a crowd of 32,000 - roughly twice the size of sellout crowds that watched him play hockey at Montreal's Forum.


Tags: Winnipeg , NHL , Kevin Cheveldayoff , Long Island , Islanders

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