The reality television craze has officially hit the Chicago Wolves.
In addition to his normal off-season team duties, Wolves general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff spent two weeks participating in the Canadian reality television program Making the Cut.
The hockey reality show revolves around an NHL-style training camp comprised of 68 players who were selected from a pool of roughly 12,000 across Canada. The tryouts were open to any Canadian hockey player, 19 and older, who were not currently signed to a professional contract. Legendary hockey coaches Scotty Bowman and Mike Keenan – with the help of coaches, scouts, and other hockey personnel – ran the training camp and narrowed the talent down.
Eventually, CBC viewers will select six winners, who will all earn an invitation to an actual NHL training camp in the fall of 2005.
Instead of judging singing voices or surviving the wilderness, in this reality show, Cheveldayoff spent the time judging the hockey talent of those attempting to survive NHL training camp conditions.
“Some of these stories are amazing,” said Cheveldayoff, who is in his eighth season as the Wolves general manager. “You get a chance to see how much the game of hockey drives these players. The show gives a lot of guys a second chance.”
The Blaine Lake, Sask., native is a perfect fit for a show geared toward finding undiscovered professional hockey talent, considering the success he’s had during his ten years of hockey operations work.
“Long-time NHL scout Jack Birch was in charge of the scouting operation and he asked me if I was interested,” said Cheveldayoff, whose resume includes building four Turner Cup championship teams and one Calder Cup championship team. “I think it took me about thirty seconds to think it over. It’s a great feeling to be a guy that gets a kid a second look. It was an honor to be a part of.”
Cheveldayoff feels that the production of the show is conducive to finding professional hockey talent.
“The TV production, the thought concept, and the way it’s done is all in a professional manner. It’s designed to ensure that the top players are evaluated properly.”
Whether scouting for the Wolves or during his short stint on a reality television program, Cheveldayoff admits that it’s never an easy task.
“Part of my job is perpetual scouting,” said Cheveldayoff. “It’s a tough job. Successful scouts can’t be afraid of making mistakes. Most of the time you have to go with your gut and stick your neck out there. You have to find character and the right balance of chemistry to win a championship.”
Evaluating talent will always be a major part of his repertoire, but working on a reality show hasn’t caused Cheveldayoff to join the recent fad that has swept American television.
“If something catches my eye I’ll stop and watch it,” said Cheveldayoff. “I wouldn’t say I’ve become an avid fan of reality television though.”