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Jets strip Blake Wheeler of captaincy, head coach Rick Bowness announces

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The Winnipeg Jets are making some changes to their on-ice leaderboard. The team announced that it had stripped veteran forward Blake Wheeler of the captain’s armband. and will start the 2022-23 season without him.

Wheeler has been captain of the Jets since 2016, but a disappointing 2021-2022 season in which the team missed the playoffs caused a big change. Head coach Paul Maurice was fired and former Dallas Stars head coach Rick Bowness was hired to replace him.

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With training camp approaching, Bowness made the decision to remain captainless for at least the start of the year.

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“The coaching staff has decided that we will enter the 2022/23 season without a specific captain, but rather with a group of assistants that has yet to be determined,” Bowness said in a statement. “Our goal is to expand the leadership base between our hockey team. We have high expectations for our core players and we want to give them the opportunity to take on these higher leadership roles within the group.”

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Bowness expanded on his decision while talking to the media. The new Jets coach said he felt it was time for a change in management, but was pleased with how close the dressing room was.

“With the new staff, it was a good time to think about changing room management as well,” Bowness said. “It took a while, but to be honest, we have a brand new lineup. We don’t know the players. I can tell you, and I’ve said it before, I’ve been very excited all summer talking to the players.” It’s a much, much more cohesive group than the perception of the room. It was very reassuring.”

Bowness also noted that the team’s key players were ready to take on more responsibilities after a disappointing 2021–2022 campaign.

“Also, you could tell from their tone and wording that they wanted to take on more responsibility,” Bowness said. “They are all very disappointed with what happened last year. It’s behind. Now we have changes. It only includes how we are going to lead the team.”

Wheeler has been with the Jets since he was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in 2011. In 12 seasons with the Thrashers and Jets, Wheeler had 246 goals, 511 assists and 757 points.




Source: www.cbssports.com

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