Wheeler questionable after Buff slapper to head

Winger felled by blast in Friday practice

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Friendly fire has left a big question mark for Saturday’s contest between the Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/11/2015 (2563 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Friendly fire has left a big question mark for Saturday’s contest between the Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes.

Right-winger Blake Wheeler, the club’s leading scorer, was felled by a high shot from teammate Dustin Byfuglien late in Friday’s practice at the MTS Centre. The puck struck Wheeler on the right side of his head. He was in some distress before receiving attention from the training staff.

Wheeler was able to skate off, holding a towel, presumably with an ice pack inside, against his head.

Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler was hit by puck at the team practice in the MTS Centre Friday.

“He got off the ice under his own power and he was coherent so we’ll get him checked out,” Jets coach Paul Maurice reported after the practice. “We won’t know until this afternoon or tomorrow.”

Getting a break: Chalk up another victory for NHL players.

Starting in 2016-17, all 30 teams will get a little extra time off during the 82-game regular season. In what’s being compared to the bye week seen in professional football leagues such as the CFL and NFL, the NHL has apparently approved an additional five-day break from practices and games.

The news was first reported by ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, who added the time frame for the break is expected to fall in the second half of the season, sometime between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28. The move, LeBrun said, is a concession from the league after the NHLPA approved the new 3-on-3 format for this year’s all-star game.

“When you’re playing 15 or 16 games in a month, especially when you get injuries, any extra day off is huge,” said Jets forward Bryan Little after practice. “I’m not too sure how much the coach is going to like it, because I can imagine that first practice after the four days off might be a little messy, maybe even the first game back, but it’s definitely nice to get away from the rink for a few days.”

Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice was asked how he felt about the added vacation time for his players during a pivotal time in the season.

“If we get a better on-ice product in the games, great,” said Maurice, adding, “If that means as coaches we have to pull a bunch of practices to get that product, that’s fine too, but we’ll just wait and see how much higher the quality of product when we have rested players.

“The wear and tear on the body and the travel and the TV-time game starts and all those things have been a factor. I’m going to bring a positive attitude here and say they factored all those things in and with the end game being that we’re going to get a better game out of these guys.”

As per the collective-bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA, teams must provide a minimum of four days off per month — two of which can come on the road — as well as a three-day break for Christmas and four days off during the annual all-star festivities.

No harm, no foul: Jets rookie Nikolaj Ehlers got an apology from defenceman Luca Sbisa for a high hit he took in the first period of Wednesday’s 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

Ehlers, who shares an agent with Sbisa, said the message came after the game, adding he carried no angst from the shot — Sbisa was issued a two-minute penalty for an illegal check to the head and later had to answer to Jets tough-guy Anthony Peluso — simply calling it a “hockey play.”

“I don’t hold a grudge for that hit, nothing at all,” he said, adding he took watching the film as a lesson not to put himself in such a vulnerable position. “I feel good, I’m fine so there’s nothing to be said further than that.”

Trouble with Trouba? Maurice said Friday he isn’t concerned about the play of Jacob Trouba this season. In fact, he’s been impressed with how his 21-year-old defenceman is progressing in his third NHL season despite having just one goal and three points in 20 games this season while playing behind Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers on the right side.

“He’s a 21-year-old defenceman who is really good right now and he’s going to get better,” he said, adding he takes little stock in outside expectations based on a small number of statistics. “He’s in a good spot, we’ve got a lot of respect for him.”

 

jeff.hamilton@freepress.mb.ca

twitter: @jeffkhamilton

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff Hamilton
Multimedia producer

After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.

History

Updated on Friday, November 20, 2015 1:24 PM CST: Changes photo

Updated on Friday, November 20, 2015 7:40 PM CST: Write-thru.

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