Bowness decides Jets will go without a captain in 2022-23

By Sportsnet Staff

The Winnipeg Jets will not have a captain this season, the team announced on Friday.

Instead, the Jets will have a group of assistant captains.

Forward Blake Wheeler had been the captain of the team since the 2016-17 season.

New head coach Rick Bowness made the decision.

“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,” Bowness said.

“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.”

After the Jets were eliminated from playoff contention last season, Wheeler said he took responsibility for the disappointing season.

“Well, I think I would have to take responsibility for that. It’s been my job to build the culture here and I’ve taken a lot of pride in that over the years,” said Wheeler. “I certainly look in the mirror on that one, and where we’ve gotten to, the team that we were and the team that we are now – I don’t hide from that at all. I certainly take the responsibility for where this team sits.

“Hopefully, we have a locker room full of guys doing the same thing. Like I said, I’ve tried to build this into something we can be proud of, something that can be a championship level every year. And when you fall short of that you’ve got to take responsibility for it.”

Last season was a challenging campaign for Wheeler, who had COVID-19 early in the year and then suffered a knee injury. He didn’t score his first goal until the 22nd game of the season.

Wheeler finished with 17 goals and 43 assists in 65 games.

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