A lot was made of the fact that Blake Wheeler was not going to be the “Captain” of the Winnipeg Jets when this NHL season started.
Too often I heard radio commentators and newspaper journalists state that “Wheeler was stripped of the Captaincy.”
The term stripped carries a very negative connotation, as it’s definition is this: “to take away something important from someone as a punishment, for example their title property, or power.”
Was Blake Wheeler really stripped of the Captain’s C on the Winnipeg Jets?
Did Blake Wheeler do something during the last season or two with our Winnipeg Jets to deserve being punished?
And if so, was that punishment carried out publicly by taking away the C?
I Don’t Believe Wheeler Was “Stripped” Of The Captain’s C
You can believe what you want, but in my humble opinion, Rick Bowness didn’t “strip” Blake Wheeler of the C.
I can’t imagine Rick Bowness, coming in as a new head coach for the Jets team, deciding that Blake Wheeler needed to be punished for anything.
Bowness wouldn’t even be in a position to decide that Wheeler was in need of punishment because he hadn’t worked on a daily basis with Wheeler prior to the start of the season.
And I can’t imagine Bowness, based on hearsay, deciding to remove the Captain’s C from one of the most outstanding, and hardest working players on the Winnipeg Jets.
There’s no way that Wheeler was “stripped” of the C in the way that expression is defined, as if he were being punished for something he did wrong.
If Wheeler Wasn’t Stripped of The Captain’s C, Then What Really Happened?
Hey, let’s be honest here, I don’t have a hot clue as to what really happened because I wasn’t involved in the conversations that went on between Rick Bowness and the Jet’s players and/Kevin Cheveldayoff.
But I have a very plausible explanation as to what really happened, and it’s this.
Rick Bowness has publicly stated that good hockey teams are lead by the players themselves.
Bones has also publicly stated that when he had to discuss the captaincy issue with Blake Wheeler he told Blake, “you’re still the leader of this hockey club, so the C or the A, don’t worry about it, just be you, and give him a lot of credit, he’s done a much better job behind the scenes and off the ice than anyone realizes, other than me because I get to watch him.”
What really happened was that Rick Bowness wanted to take the pressure of the Captaincy off of Wheeler and him the freedom to be himself “behind the scenes and off the ice.”
Everyone knows that Wheeler isn’t the most comfortable person when he’s in front of the cameras and being questioned every night post-game, always having to answer for himself and the team.
Removing the Captaincy wasn’t a punishment at all.
It was a gift from Bones to Wheeler while Bones was also sending a message to the rest of the team.
And I can imagine that message sounding something like, “you guys all have the opportunity now to step up and be heard and lead this team together.
The leadership is not going to be on the shoulders of just one guy, because one guy doesn’t make a winning team. You all have as much responsibility as Blake Wheeler to be leaders on this team.”
Taking away the Captaincy was a message to the entire team. It wasn’t a punishment for anyone.
It activated the leadership capabilities of every single player in the Jet’s dressing room, and when you have 23 players all playing their leadership role on the team, you’ve got a team that is going to be very hard to beat, as the Winnipeg Jets have shown us all so far this hockey season.
You Don’t Need The C To Show Everyone You’re Still The Leader On The Winnipeg Jets
Just look at how Blake Wheeler has handled himself since he had the Captaincy removed.
- He’s been the utmost professional.
- He’s played as hard as he ever has.
- According to Rick Bowness he’s exercising outstanding leadership and mentoring the younger players on the team.
- He’s nothing but a force for good and positivity on the Winnipeg Jets.
And on top of it all?
He scored 3 goals against the Colorado Avalanche last night, and has 21 points in 20 games.
Blake Wheeler is showing us all what it means to be a leader on this Winnipeg Jets Hockey Team.
And being a leader has nothing to do with wearing a “C” on your hockey jersey, because frankly, the “C” means nothing.
It’s your actions and attitude on and off the ice that mean everything.
And from what we’re all witnessing, as well as what Rick Bowness himself has told us publicly, Blake Wheeler is still the leader of this team.
Blake Wheeler was not “stripped” of the captaincy at all.
He was set free by an empathetic and compassionate head coach so he could just be himself behind the scenes and off the ice.
And aren’t we all glad that we get to watch him do his thing on the ice, too?
Thank you Blake Wheeler.
And thank you Rick Bowness.
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