Jets to enter 2022-23 season without captain
The Winnipeg Jets will begin the upcoming season without a captain.
Instead, the Jets will be led by an undetermined group of alternate captains.
"It is our goal to expand the leadership base within our hockey team," newly appointed head coach Rick Bowness said. "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."
Veteran forward Blake Wheeler had been the Jets' captain since 2016-17. He spoke on the shake-up later Friday.
"I don't need a letter on my jersey, you know?" Wheeler said, per TSN. "I think there was a time in my career where that validation was important to me. I don't need that anymore."
"I'm really looking forward to watching a lot of the guys that I've had a privilege of watching kind of grow up, step into a sort of expanded role. If you think that because of this I'm just going to fade into the back and not be a leader on this team, you're sorely mistaken."
Last season, forward Mark Scheifele and blue-liner Josh Morrissey served as assistant captains under Wheeler. Scheifele has been teammates with Wheeler his entire career, and the two have been linemates most of their tenure together.
"Shocker to me," Scheifele said, according to Postmedia's Michael Traikos. "First and foremost, I want to be there for him and be a friend. He's still a mentor of mine."
"He's still going to be a leader on our team," Scheifele added, per The Athletic's Michael Russo.
The Jets missed the playoffs for the first time in four years this past season. Longtime head coach Paul Maurice suddenly stepped down in December, and Winnipeg's end-of-year interviews provided some eye-popping quotes.
Scheifele questioned his future with the franchise - a matter that the team and player have since resolved. Paul Stastny, who signed with the Carolina Hurricanes this summer, said Jets players lacked accountability and care for one another.
Winnipeg begins its 2022-23 campaign Oct. 14 against the New York Rangers.