Mark Scheifele has words for Jets following Blake Wheeler demotion

The Jets made a stunning decision earlier this week.

Michael Whitaker

The Winnipeg Jets pulled a stunning move earlier this week, stripping veteran forward Blake Wheeler of the captaincy that he'd held since 2016. New head coach Rick Bowness certainly isn't messing around, establishing that it is clearly a new day in Winnipeg. 

“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 in the release.

"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."

And needless to say, the news came as a stunner to the team, and particularly assistant captain Mark Scheifele.

"I was really surprised, I definitely did not see it coming," he explained to TSN's Darren Dreger. "It's a tough thing to go through, you don't know how to deal with that stuff until that happens. Blake's a really good friend of mine, and a guy who I've learned so much from. He's mentored me since I was 18 years old, and I've learned so many things from him. I wouldn't be where I am today without him."

"Obviously that's tough, but we know what we're getting out of him. We know the kind of guy and player he is; just because he doesn't have the "C", he's not going to all of a sudden stop leading. He works the hardest in the gym, the hardest on the ice, practice and games. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and we know what we're getting out of him. We need more guys to step up."

With Bowness now behind the Jets bench, Scheifele knows it will be a learning process, but hopefully one that results in a better campaign than last year. 

"You just have to feel it out. New coaches, new system....there's going to be more verbiage," he said. "Last year was a disaster for us and a lot of chaos, and there's a lot of things I wish I would have done and handled differently."