Blake Wheeler will not serve as captain of Winnipeg Jets to start the 2022–23 season.
On Friday, the Jets released a statement from the new head coach Rick Bowness announced “leadership group restructuring.”
Instead of Wheeler wearing a “C” – as he has done since 2016 – the Jets will deploy a team of assistant captains earlier this year.
Josh Morrissey and Mark Scheifele served as assistant captains under the wheel during the 2021–22 season, in which the Jets finished 11th at the Western Conference with a record of 39–32–11.
Wheeler, 36, has two years left on his contract with a limit of $8.25 million. The 6-foot-5-year-old winger scored 17 goals and 60 points in 65 games against the Jets last season.
During Wheeler’s tenure as captain, the Jets advanced to the knockout stages three times (plus one qualifying spot in 2020) and made it past the first round in 2018 and 2021.
Wheeler is the all-time leader of the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise in terms of supports and points. The Jets have had only two captains since moving from Atlanta in 2011: Andrew Ladd (2011 to 2016) and Wheeler (2016 to 2022).
Scheifele and Wheeler were the only two players left to play with the Jets in 2011–12, their first season back in Winnipeg.