A fairly troubling article has surfaced via Finnish publication Iltalehti that states the motivation behind Patrik Laine’s decision to move on from the Winnipeg Jets stemmed from mistreatment by his own teammates. More specifically, Blake Wheeler’s behavior and leadership style as captain was a huge issue for Laine and it led to a major division between Laine, some of his teammates and the coach.
** Author’s Note: The opinions expressed by the publication cited here are exclusively their own and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of NHL Trade Talk.
After Laine was moved to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jets captain Blake Wheeler noted that he regretted how he handled he and Laine’s relationship. He didn’t go into specific details about what potential issues the two might have had, but the comment caught people’s attention and it seemed clear that the two players didn’t always have the greatest of relationships.
Obviously, players don’t always see eye to eye, but in this case, Iltalehti is reporting that Wheeler was a driving force behind some of the unhappiness felt by Laine during his stay with the Jets. The publication (translated into English) writes that there were actually two parties that caused Laine grief. They note:
“According to information from Iltalehti’s insiders, one of them was the Jets veteran striker, Captain Blake Wheeler. The other was Jets ’number one center, Wheeler weapon carrier Mark Scheifele.”
Apparently, the reason Wheeler took aim at Laine is because Wheeler felt his position as No. 1 right winger was being threatened. He was also bothered by the fact Laine was becoming quite popular within the city and that Wheeler felt the position as top Finnish star in Winnipeg should always go to Teemu Selänne.
As far as Scheifele was concerned, he was “on the captain’s leash”. They add, he “made it clear to everyone that he wanted to play with Wheeler.”
Why Didn’t the Coach Step In?
Things got ugly when Wheeler would allegedly speak behind Laine’s back and shared private details Laine would have preferred remained private. And, that Jets head coach Paul Maurice was too weak to defy Wheeler and Scheifele, that didn’t sit well with Laine who knew who was actually running the team.
According to the publication, Wheeler wasn’t just a contributing factor to Laine’s unrest, but they suggest there’s a connection between the captain and a number of other players on the team who have left in recent years. Citing the exits of Evander Kane, Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Jack Roslovic, they write, “This tells us that there is something rotten in the club led by GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and in the locker room led by Wheeler.”
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