Heckuva birthday present: Blake Wheeler named Winnipeg Jets team captain
Wheeler takes on title last held by Andrew Ladd, who was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks
Blake Wheeler has been named the new captain of the Winnipeg Jets.
Wheeler, who led the team in scoring last season, takes on the title last held by Andrew Ladd.
The timing of the announcement couldn't be better for Wheeler — Wednesday is his 30th birthday.
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Ladd had been the Jets' captain since the team relocated from Atlanta to Winnipeg in 2011. He led the Jets in scoring three times, in the the 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons.
The Jets have been without a captain since Ladd was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this year. He later inked a multimillion-dollar deal with the New York Islanders.
On Wednesday morning, the Winnipeg Jets announced via Twitter that they'd reveal the new captain at noon CT.
At the news conference, Jets head coach Paul Maurice said Wheeler demonstrates outstanding leadership in the community and on the ice.
"Leading by example is not a strong enough statement," Maurice said.
"What an incredible gift that we have to have Blake as that example, that he can stand beside anybody on the ice and we can say, 'Just watch him and do what he does.'"
'A distinct honour'
Wheeler called the appointment an honour.
Mark Scheifele, 23, and Dustin Byfuglien, 31, were named alternate team captains and Wheeler said he was "happy to be the leader of that group," calling the opportunity a joint responsibility.
Leadership, Wheeler said, is a priority for him on the ice and at home.