Our last entry in the 12 Days of Jetsmas is for none other than the captain of the Jets, Blake Wheeler.
What does the number one have to do with Blake? Well, he goes into this Christmas break at number one (tied) on the NHL leader-board for assists this season with 43. Last season he was number one in the league (again, tied) with assists with 68. From his spot on the wing, he’s typically the team’s power play quarterback making him the number one option to have the puck at any given moment with the man advantage. He was picked in the first round of the 2004 draft. His first all-star game was last season.
Are all of these a bit of a stretch to put him at the number one spot? Maybe a little bit, but there is only one Jets captain and we may be a bit biased when we say he’s the best damn captain in the NHL.
On the last day of Jetsmas, we give to you one Blake Wheeler…
The 2015/16 season was, a crucial season for the Winnipeg Jets. This season set in motion their rebuild, and really identified the core that GM Kevin Cheveldayoff wanted to move forward with. By the time the February 29th Trade Deadline came along, it was time for Chevy to make a decision: with the Jets sitting comfortably outside of the playoff picture with a 26-31-4 record, Cheveldayoff had to decide whether or not to move Andrew Ladd, the then captain of our Winnipeg Jets. The pending UFA Ladd was known to be looking for big money on a long term deal at the seasons end, so it was up to Cheveldayoff to decide whether to move on from Ladd, or to keep him and try and re-sign him.
Ultimately, Cheveldayoff decided to move on from Ladd, trading him to the Chicago Blackhawks days before the Trade Deadline on February 25th 2016. The Jets acquired Prospect Marko Dano, a 2016 first-round draft pick, and a conditional 2018 pick if Chicago won the cup (they didn’t). This move set in motion the rebuild, and would lead to one of the most important moments in this franchises history. Two months after moving up 4 spots in the draft to take Patrik Laine 2nd overall, on August 31st 2016 the Winnipeg Jets officially announced Blake Wheeler as the second Captain of Jets 2.0. This was a franchise defining move. Wheeler had established himself as an integral member of the Jets core shortly after their arrival from Atlanta, and he only continued to get better in the years leading up to him being named captain.
Like a fine wine, Blake Wheeler has only gotten better with age; he was a very good player up until being named captain, and since then he has become one of the elite play-makers in the game. In his age 32 season, he had a career high 91 points in 81 games, along with a league leading 68 assists (tied with Flyers forward Claude Giroux), and so far this year through 36 games, he is again having a spectacular season with 48 points.
Wheeler is not only a great captain on the ice, but off the ice as well. There is that great video of him talking to Laine on the bench after he scored on himself against Edmonton in his first season, as well as the advice he gave to a young Kyle Connor after getting sent down to the Moose in his first pro season.
Jets Captain Blake Wheeler consoles Patrik Laine after his own goal pic.twitter.com/9L9ig3eDes
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) December 12, 2016
"Just trying to make the right play, and puts it in the wrong spot. It's as simple as that." Wheeler on the 3-2 loss to Edmonton. pic.twitter.com/9EQIpUzWfm
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) December 12, 2016
Blake Wheeler has always been a fantastic player, and a natural leader but the Andrew Ladd trade in February of 2016 really solidified Wheeler as the leader and driver of this team, both on and off the ice
Oh Captain, My Captain, Winnipeg loves Wheeler