Winnipeg hires Kevin Cheveldayoff

Chicago Blackhawks assistant general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has been hired as GM of Winnipeg's NHL franchise.

"While it is never easy to lose someone of his caliber, it is a great opportunity for him and his family," Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said in a statement. "He was a significant part of our front office, and he played an integral role in the success of the Blackhawks throughout the last two years. I want to personally thank him for his dedication to our organization and certainly wish him all the best in Winnipeg."

Cheveldayoff spent 12 years with the Atlanta Thrashers organization as general manager of its farm team, the Chicago Wolves. The Thrashers were purchased with the intent of moving to Winnipeg last week.

The Winnipeg team's ownership announced on Sunday that Thrashers GM Rick Dudley would not be retained. Dudley signed a four-year extension in January with the Thrashers.

Cheveldayoff will decide whether Craig Ramsay and the rest of the team's coaching staff will make the trip north to Winnipeg, a source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun.

A search for a replacement for Cheveldayoff will begin immediately.

ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers contributed to this report.