Rick Bowness hasn't tip-toed into Winnipeg.
In a move resembling the infamous leadership shakeups in San Jose, the Winnipeg Jets have stripped Blake Wheeler of his captaincy, choosing to enter the season with a leadership core exclusively made up of assistants.
Wheeler will presumably still be one of those assistant captains as an enduring member of the leadership base, but the Jets and Bowness would not go as far as confirming that with their press release.
"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 stated.
"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 meet with the media Friday to provide further details.
There have long been questions about Wheeler's leadership credentials in Winnipeg, in addition to the culture being cultivated in the Jets' room. The 15-season veteran and six-year captain has clashed with teammates and media members throughout his tenure, and shouldered much of the blame for the team's failures at the end of last season.
Strange circumstances have surrounded Wheeler's run as captain as well. Though we can only speculate when it comes to the former captain's role in the drama, the Jets have seen core players traded and unexpectedly retire in recent seasons, on top of the puzzling decision from Paul Maurice last season to vacate his head coaching post.
It has always seemed that some sort of fundamental change was required for the Jets to meet their potential. Stopping short of a significant personnel move, the organization has chosen to strip the front-facing member of the team of his power instead.
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