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Leadership group returns to training camp

Wheeler, Scheifele, Byfuglien take to the ice at MTS Iceplex

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 /

CAMP | Blake Wheeler

CAMP | Blake Wheeler

Captain Blake Wheeler talks about Jacob Trouba, the World Cup and finally getting back to work after a long offseason

  • 01:18 •

For the first time since it was announced on August 31, Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Dustin Byfuglien took to the ice in their new roles of captain and alternate captains of the Winnipeg Jets.

Wheeler and Byfuglien (USA) and Scheifele (North America) had been in Toronto for the World Cup of Hockey, and after being cleared by the team's medical staff, took their first strides at training camp.

"It's nice to get home, (and) nice to see the family again," said Wheeler, who finished with one assist in three games with USA.

"It's nice to get into routine here, get back with the guys, and try to get up to speed with what we're doing, and start to build some chemistry within our group."

Scheifele also notched one assist in three games while skating with Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews on Team North America. The 23-year-old Scheifele may have been the 'seasoned veteran' on that line, but he still picked up some things that could help him this season.

Video: CAMP | Mark Scheifele

"You can learn a lot from guys that are around your age in practice and in games, you can learn little tricks or whatever they do," he said. "Obviously I was playing on the wing, so you can take some things out of that, knowing what it's like to be a winger, and me being a centre, I can maybe empathize with what a winger is doing.

"The biggest thing was it was pretty cool to play against the best in the world, and be a part of that."

Now Scheifele's focus is back on getting up to speed with what has been going on at training camp. The coming week includes five preseason games in seven days.

Scheifele finished the 2015-2016 campaign on a tear, recording a career high in goals (29) and points (61). He followed that up by signing an eight-year extension on July 8, two weeks after the Jets selected Patrik Laine in the first round of the NHL Draft.

While today was the first time the two have worn the same colours on the ice, they've faced each other a few times. Scheifele's Canadian squad defeated Laine's Finland team in the IIHF World Hockey Championship, and Scheifele once again bested Laine at the World Cup.

Off the ice though, the two have bonded, with Laine attending Scheifele's fundraising golf tournament in the summer, among other events.

"It's better being on the same side as him so we're not chirping back and forth at each other," Scheifele laughed. "He's obviously a very good player and very skilled. It's definitely a big improvement for our team."

Training camp continues tomorrow at 10 am CT at MTS Iceplex, followed by the first scheduled preseason game at 7 pm against the Calgary Flames.

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