Blake Wheeler played in his 500th game for this franchise tonight. That’s a bigger deal than it even sounds.
Wheeler has been with the franchise since the Atlanta Thrashers acquired him and Mark Stewart in 2011 in a trade with the Bruins for Boris Valabik and Rich Peverley. A move that, since the Thrashers relocated north to Winnipeg at the end of that season, has proven fairly prosperous for the Jets.
Playing a lot of games for one team isn’t something that often merits mention these days, as there are over 50 players who have played more than 1000 games for one franchise. What makes it so special for Wheeler here in Winnipeg is that, since the Jets 2.0 came to town, they have played a total of 482 as a franchise. He’s missed 5 games as a Jet for a subtotal of 477, plus the 23 he played for Atlanta brings us to our big milestone number.
How big of a deal is that, by the way? Missing just 5 games in a possible 505? That’s absolute insanity in this league. He’s the Jets’ own iron man.
He’s the Jets’ own iron man.
On top of that, his production has been unwavering. He has never had a season point total less than 60 (save for the shortened 2012-13 season — where he still managed to amass 41 points in a 48 game season, during which he played in every single one), and he currently sits at 22 assists and 6 goals for a total of 28 points in only 24 games this season.
I’ve heard some people talk about him who aren’t sure if he should be the captain, but I personally can’t think of anyone more worthy of the honour. Both his leadership in the locker room and his works in the Winnipeg community have really embedded him into the hearts of his teammates and Winnipeggers alike.