Winnipeg Jets Take Off Captaincy Blake Wheeler, Will Use Collection of Alternative Captains

Winnipeg Jets Have Snatched black wheeler The team will enter the 2022-23 season under the captaincy and with a collection of alternate captains instead, the team announced on Friday. Those players are still being determined.

“It is our goal to expand the leadership base within our hockey team,” Jets coach Rick Bones said in a statement. “We have high expectations from our core players, and we want to provide them as a group the opportunity to step into those larger leadership roles.”

Wheeler, 36, was the captain of the Jets since 2016. He joined the organization while Winnipeg was still based in Atlanta and remains its longest-serving player.

The veteran admitted on Friday that he was “surprised” to learn about the jet’s new direction, but maintained a positive outlook.

“I don’t need a letter on my jersey,” Wheeler told reporters. “There was a time in my career when that recognition was important to me. I don’t need it anymore. I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of people I’ve had the privilege of growing up and stepping into an expanded role.” If you think that because of this I am going to fade into the background and not be the leader of this team, then you are very wrong.”

The decision to go without a single leader is Bones’ first major move since he took over as coach of the Jets in July. He replaced interim bench boss Dave Lowry, who took over in December when Paul Morris resigned after nine seasons, saying the Jets needed “a new voice” to reach their full potential. That sentiment now extends to the team’s dressing room, where the disappointment was mounting.

When Winnipeg failed to make the playoffs last season for the first time since 2016-17, alternate captains Mark Schaeffel Publicly questioned where the franchise is headed. Scheifele has two years left on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent. Jets also expected to lock up Pierre-Luc Dubois The long-term, but pending, restricted free agent has so far only committed to a one-year deal.

Winnipeg general manager Kevin Sheveldoff picked Bones and his 33 years of coaching experience to steer the Jets back in a competitive direction. The bow that replaced the leadership group already sends a message about the importance of moving away from the status quo.

“It’s hard to digest right now because I haven’t really had any conversations with anyone about it. Players, coaches, staff, kinda anything,” Schaeffel told ESPN. “I think it will definitely be interesting why they decided to do this and what the reason was. Blake has been the heart and soul of their team for a long time, so it was definitely a shock to me. I Definitely excited to hear what the rationale is.”

Schiffele first learned of the decision on Thursday morning – a full day before the team released the news. He was on his way to Las Vegas to participate in the NHL/NHLPA Players Media Tour when Wheeler told Scheifel in person that he was no longer going to captain the Jets.

Schaeffel said it was a quick conversation with Wheeler. But his main concern was making sure Wheeler was doing okay with the decision.

“Obviously, it was a blow to him as well,” Schaeffel said. “Then, Bones called this morning to tell me it’s going to be released and I wanted to know. It was one of those things you don’t know how to react to it. You just take it.” It’s the more difficult part, because when big things happen, you rely on your friends, you rely on your teammates to bounce ideas off and on with a little understanding. “

“I think we’re all excited to have a new coach, a new system, a new structure, understand that system, understand the structure of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Schiffele said. Said about the season. “Just the excitement. A lot of people are excited to go. People are excited to have a new voice, a new system, and to understand it. I think when you come to the rink and you know the purpose and you know you Why doing something that changes everything.”

ESPN’s Ryan Clark contributed to this report.

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