Patrik Laine had a tough night last night.
That’s an understatement, he had an excruciatingly tough night.
Scoring on his own net to spoon feed the Oilers a victory isn’t an easy thing to digest for an 18 year-old scoring phenom. Laine skated back to the bench with a heavy amount of disappointment on his shoulders and his sadness was met with consoling from his captain, Blake Wheeler.
Blake Wheeler after Patrik Laine scored on his own net. Awesome. pic.twitter.com/1KI74uMurP
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 12, 2016
It was a simple embrace and words of encouragement, but it speaks to the strides Blake Wheeler has made since having the ‘C’ strapped on his chest. The Jets leader doesn’t want the teams prodigy to let a little mistake eat away at him. He’s looking out for his young players. Wheeler was seen to be visibly upset in the locker room after the game as Laine was swarmed by media, having to explain what exactly happened on the peculiar mistake.
Patrik Laine’s stick is so hot right now that he doesn’t even care what net he has to bury it into pic.twitter.com/yNCcNdCDsW
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 12, 2016
This kind of leadership has been displayed all throughout the year. Furthermore, since becoming a Winnipeg Jet, Wheeler has embraced a leadership role.
On several occasions you can find Wheeler speaking to line mates after a shift offering advice and words of encouragement. A vocal leader on the ice which is a tad different from what we could see from Andrew Ladd. Ladd, now with the New York Islanders, would lead by example on the ice. I can’t account for what he was like in the dressing room but on the ice it seems Wheeler provides a different sort of energy.
That’s just the kind of captain Blake Wheeler is.
Back in the summer when the Jets were in the process of naming their new captain, many had vouched for Jets centre Mark Scheifele to take the reigns as the team’s captain. I have no doubt that one day that day will come for Scheifele. But Scheifele, along with many of the Jets exciting young forwards, have plenty of learning to do.
Blake Wheeler is here to be the teacher.
Paul Maurice and the Jets coaching staff seems to have a great deal of confidence in Wheeler. When Scheifele went down with an injury for a handful of games, Wheeler shifted from the wing to centre, which is no easy task.
While Wheeler may be on pace for 56 points ( which would be his lowest point total as a Winnipeg Jet thus far) the steps and production he has given the Jets on and off the ice is unmeasurable. Wheeler has made himself known as a tough competitor and he’s the perfect compliment for the Jets young stars.
“There’s a distinction that comes with wearing the C on your jersey.” Wheeler told the Winnipeg Sun when he was named captain. “Whether you like it or not, everyone looks at you a little bit differently. They look at what things are supposed to be like, how you’re supposed to act, how you’re supposed to prepare and how you’re supposed to play on a nightly basis.”
Wheeler has lived up to that standard.