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WHEELER RESPONDS TO REPORTS THAT HE AND SCHEIFELE PUSHED LAINE OUT OF WINNIPEG

Just a couple of days ago, a report out of Patrik Laine's home country of Finland placed the blame squarely at the feet of three people for Laine wanting out of Winnipeg. The report, which you can read in full here, claimed Jets captain Blake Wheeler, linemate Mark Scheifele and head coach Paul Maurice were major forces behind Laine requesting a trade and eventually landing with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"Wheeler felt his position on the right side of the No. 1 line was threatened because Laine was originally the right winger," said the report in Iltalehti.fi. "Scheifele, who was on the team captain's leash, made it clear to everyone that he wanted to play with Wheeler."

"Wheeler and Scheifele threw sand at Laine's skates in almost every possible way," the report continued. "Wheeler in particular was a master at speaking behind the back of the young Finnish man for things he certainly did not want in public."

"Jets head coach Paul Maurice was too weak to defy Wheeler and Scheife. Maurice let and continues to let Wheeler and Scheifele lead the team."

In his latest 31 Thoughts article, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman asked Wheeler for a response to those allegations. He denied all of them.

"If I have any regrets, my regrets would be some of the frustrations that took place over the years," Wheeler said. "Every time we communicated, it's been nothing but positive. Never any fighting, never any yelling at each other. So maybe I could have communicated a little better instead of just getting frustrated. Never once was I hard on Patty far from it. If anything, I was very respectful and coddled a young teenager and 20-year-old."

Laine was, of course, traded to Columbus, along with the Jack Roslovic, in exchange for centre Pierre-Luc Dubois and a third round pick. Laine had been vocal about his desire to play on the top line in Winnipeg. He'll definitely get that opportunity with the Blue Jackets.
TIM TUCKER
JANUARY 27, 2021  (16H39)
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