The captain of a hockey team has a huge responsibility added to their shoulders, on top of the regular role of playing well, usually for a top line. Leaders have to be positive influences both on and off the ice, and a weak captain can doom a team to failure. With clear leadership holes in the Winnipeg Jets, could a strong captain help bridge the gap?
The Jets are in a less-than-ideal situation currently, having played last season without a captain after Blake Wheeler was stripped of the position. While not the only team in this predicament, the Jets currently don’t have an easy way to fix the issue. Mark Scheifele seems like the obvious option on the surface level, having served as an alternate for the past 6 years. But if a contract can’t be reached before the season begins, the team risks giving the badge to a player simply uninterested in the franchise.
Josh Morrissey is seemingly the top contender for the role. Also an alternate captain, Morrissey was drafted by the team in 2013. A consistent player coming off a 60-assist all-star season, Morrissey will spearhead the defense for the Jets this year. Having also represented Canada internationally, it wouldn’t surprise many to see his name on top of the ballot.
Kyle Connor could be a sneaky contender most people aren’t considering. Drafted by the Jets in 2015, Connor has separated himself as one of the league’s best when playing well. As an all-star in 2022, he’s coming off an 80-point season last year. While a slightly down year compared to the standards he’s set, there are a few factors working in his favor. First, he played all 82 games last year, and 79 in 2022. A captain can’t lead from off the ice. Secondly, Connor does a great job of avoiding penalty minutes. With 24 PIM in the last 2 years, he’s not a guy losing his temper often.
Can any of these players take the step up to a leadership role with the Jets in the 2023 season?