July 20, 2024

Get to Know Winnipeg Jets’ New Assistant Coaches Payne & Chynoweth

The Winnipeg Jets have added two assistant coaches to their staff: Davis Payne and Dean Chynoweth will join new head coach Scott Arniel behind the bench 2024-25 season and attempt to help the Jets not only make the playoffs again, but overcome their penchant for early exits.

“After a thorough interview process, I feel we’ve found two great individuals to help push our team forward,” Arniel said in a news release after the hires were announced on June 17. “Both Dean and Davis bring with them a great deal of enthusiasm as well as a tremendous amount of team success and experience on the development side of coaching, having worked with veterans and young players alike. Both have excelled in the area of specialty teams with top-10 power plays and penalty killing units. I am excited by what both can offer our staff and our players.”

Indeed, Davis and Chynoweth — the winning two out of 17 candidates Arniel interviewed — bring plenty of experience to the table, gleaned from the NHL, various minor leagues, and juniors. Here, we’ll take a look at each

Payne, 53, served for 137 games over three seasons as the St. Louis Blues’ head coach between 2009-10 and 2011-12. He took over on Jan. 2, 2010 in an interim head-coaching role after Andy Murray was fired, and had his interim tag removed for the 2010-11 season. He was fired, however, after the Blues got off to a 6-7-0 start in 2011-12.Winnipeg Jets Announce Two Coaches Added to Arniel's Staff | Yardbarker

Since then, Payne has served as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings (five seasons, including the Stanley-Cup winning 2013-14 campaign), Buffalo Sabres (two seasons), and Ottawa Senators (four full seasons plus 26 games of a fifth season before being dismissed along DJ Smith last December.)

Prior to his NHL coaching career, he coached in the ECHL almost a decade, acting as the head coach of the Pee Dee Pride for three seasons (2000 through 2003) and the Alaska Aces for four seasons (2003 through 2007), leading the Aces to a Kelly Cup championship in 2006. He was also the head coach of the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen for a season-and-a-half before being promoted to the Blues’ top job.

Payne, who hails from Port Alberni, BC, was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the seventh round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. The right winger spent most of his professional playing career (1992-2000) in the minors but did appear in 22-career NHL games for the Boston Bruins from 1995 to 1997, registering one assist.

Chynoweth, 55, spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it was announced after Sheldon Keefe was fired that he would not return. Prior to his time in Toronto, he spent three seasons as an assistant coach for the Carolina Hurricanes.

His first experience as an NHL coach came in 2009-10, when he became an assistant with the New York Islanders and stayed in the position for three seasons. Between the Islanders and Hurricanes, he was head coach of the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters (three seasons) and San Antonio Rampage (one season.)

Prior to NHL coaching career, Chynoweth spent nearly a decade in the Western Hockey League, serving as head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds for four seasons (2000 through 2004) and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos for five (2004 through 2009.) He also served as the Bronco’s general manager for those five campaigns, giving him front-office experience and showing he’s a hard worker capable of shouldering multiple roles simultaneously.

“His personality is very upbeat and positive, he’s really outgoing. The one thing in talking to players is how they felt unified as a group and with (Chynoweth) constantly checking in on them on the relationship side of things. Wherever he’s been, he’s had a good relationship with his players and I felt that was a real positive,” Arniel said (from ‘Arniel rounds out Jets coaching staff, Winnipeg

Chynoweth, who hails from Calgary, was drafted 13th overall by the Islanders in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. The defenseman played 241-career NHL games between the Islanders and Bruins, recording four goals and 18 assists for 22 points (he and Payne were teammates in Boston in 1995-96 and 1996-97.)

He is the son of Ed Chynoweth, who served as president of the WHL and CHL for more than 20 years each and was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto as a builder.

The hires are aimed at shoring up the Jets’ special teams, which were subpar last season. Payne ran the Senators’ power play in Ottawa, while Chynoweth’s ran the Maple Leafs’ and Hurricanes’ PK regimes. In Carolina, his penalty-kill finished in the top 10 all three seasons he was on staff and was known for its aggressive approach. Payne will manage the power play and forwards, while Chynoweth’s purview will be the PK and the defensemen

The Jets were one of the best five-on-five teams in 2023-24 under now-retired head coach Rick Bowness — and they captured 52 wins due mostly to their even-strength prowess — but their power play and penalty kill were both poor and cost them games. Their 18.75 power play efficiency was 22nd league wide, while their 77.13 penalty kill efficiency was 21st. These numbers led to assistant coach Brad Lauer being dismissed.

Ideally, Payne and Chynoweth’s presence will help the Jets — a team that’s Stanley Cup window is open but has made two-straight first-round exits — get to the next level. As outsiders with no past connections to True North Sports & Entertainment, they should be able to provide fresh perspectives to Arniel and the players.

With the coaching staff filled out, all eyes will turn to the 2024 NHL Entry Draft in Las Vegas on June 28 and 29. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s first pick will be in the second round, at 37th overall, and he will attempt to snag someone of value at that position.

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