Wheeler stripped of Jets' captaincy in 'restructuring' of team leadership

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The Winnipeg Jets are heading into the new season without a team captain.

The team announced a “restructuring” of its leadership group Friday, and said it will go forward without a captain. Instead, the Jets intend to have a group of alternate captains. Those players are yet to be determined.

Forward Blake Wheeler, an original member of the team since its relocation from Atlanta in 2011, had served as the Jets’ second captain since 2016.

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New head coach Rick Bowness said it’s about expanding the team’s leadership group and not about who wears a letter on his jersey.

“I’ve been around the league in some capacity or other for 47 years — some of the best leaders I’ve played for and coached never had an ‘A’, never had a ‘C’,” Bowness said.

“You’re gonna lead. What we’re trying to do now is get more guys in that group to take that responsibility and be proud of it.”

Although the team’s leadership is still to be formally determined, Bowness said he expects Wheeler will continue to be a leader on the ice — a sentiment the former captain said he agrees with.

Wheeler said it’s been an honour to have been captain — something he never would have dreamed of earlier in his career — but he’s excited about the next step in the Jets’ development as a team.

“I’m just looking forward to watching the guys that I’ve mentored step up, because it’s their time now,” he said.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m still going to be doing the things I would’ve done with the ‘C’ on my jersey this year.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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