Never one to use a curse word, Winnipeg Jets star Mark Scheifele recently called rumours about issues within the only NHL team he’s ever played for “...a bunch of baloney.”
The 26-year-old centre was in Toronto on Thursday to participate in Smashfest — an annual table tennis tournament put on by former NHLer Dominic Moore in support of cancer and concussion research. It was there that he was asked about his team’s alleged internal problems.
"People can claim whatever, but I know we have a tight-knit team," he said, according to Mike Zeisberger of NHL.com. "We have great guys in our room. And there's no question in my mind about the character we have in our room, the unity that we have."
It’s not as if this chatter about conflict within the walls of Bell MTS Place came out of nowhere, though. In fact, it likely originated from the squad’s head coach.
After advancing to the Western Conference Final in 2018, the Jets were knocked out of the first round of the postseason last spring in six games by the St. Louis Blues — the eventual Stanley Cup champions.
Following the exit, Paul Maurice hinted at turmoil, according to Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press.
“We’ve got a few ruffled feathers in there that we're going to have to flatten out before we get going,” said Maurice in late-April.
As if trying to be vague and ambiguous, he didn’t provide any further details or explanation.
Around the same time, Kevin Cheveldayoff — the team’s general manager — stated that he didn’t think that there were any ongoing issues within his club. However, he did bring up the potential for a change within its leadership group, according to McIntyre.
Blake Wheeler was the team’s captain last season and has been since August of 2016. Scheifele and Dustin Byfuglien were the assistants for the 2018-19 campaign.
Now, we sit here with a bunch of conflicting stories and a very muddied picture of precisely what is going on within one of the most dynamic teams in the league.
At the end of the day, exactly what is going on in a NHL dressing room truly isn’t our business — nor should it be. Every group of co-workers has to go through its share of ups and downs on its way to a common goal. Most of those struggles are dealt with out of the public eye. Others, such as the scrap between Robert Bortuzzo and Zach Sanford at a St. Louis Blues practice in December, aren’t.
Nonetheless, if a team’s head coach subtly mentions such troubles, we’re going to naturally be a little curious.
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