Winnipeg Jets go without captain for upcoming NHL season

·2 min read
Blake Wheeler's No. 26 will no longer have the C sewn onto it. (David Lipnowski/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Blake Wheeler's No. 26 will no longer have the C sewn onto it. (David Lipnowski/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The Winnipeg Jets have taken the C off Blake Wheeler's jersey and tucked it away, choosing to hand out a whole bunch of As instead.

The NHL team has decided to go captain-less, announcing a restructuring of its leadership ahead of the 2022-23 season.

It's the first time in the franchise history of the NHL team, which began play in the 1999-2000 season as the Atlanta Thrashers before relocating to become the Jets for the 2011-12 season, that it will not have a designated leader.

"It is the determination of the coaching staff that we will enter the 2022-23 season without a specific captain, but rather a group of assistants still to be determined," new head coach Rick Bowness said in a news release on Friday morning.

"It is our goal to expand the leadership base within our hockey team. We have high expectations for our core players and we want to provide them with the opportunity to step into those greater leadership roles as a group."

Bowness and Wheeler will be holding a news conference at noon to talk about the changes.

Wheeler, 36, was named the team's second-ever captain on his 30th birthday, Aug. 31, 2016.

He replaced Andrew Ladd, who was named the Thrashers' captain in 2010 and retained the title when the team moved to Winnipeg. Ladd was dealt to Chicago at the 2016 trade deadline.

The Jets qualified for the playoffs three times with Wheeler as captain and advanced to the Western Conference final in the 2017-18 season. They also appeared in the qualifying round of the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, but lost to Calgary in four games.

The Jets finished sixth in the Central Division last season and missed the playoffs.

Their season was marked by the departure of head coach Paul Maurice and some players, including star Mark Scheifele, who questioned the direction of the team after the campaign.