Jets Report: Kane eclipses goal mark
Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Jets winger Evander Kane gets in a shot between Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and Boston Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg during NHL action on Feb. 17, 2012 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI AGENCY)
Blake Wheeler remembers the call like it was yesterday.
In reality, it's been one calendar year since the speedy right-winger was traded by the Boston Bruins to the Atlanta Thrashers along with defenceman Mark Stuart for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik.
"It's flown by, it really has," said Wheeler. "It's crazy to think that a year ago at this time, the big move was made."
Wheeler had been mentioned in trade rumours, but he thought he might be off the hook after the Bruins picked up Tomas Kaberle from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"It was tough, it was right after the morning skate in Ottawa and the Kaberle deal had just been done so I thought I had dodged a bullet there," said Wheeler. "I remember sitting in the room with my roommate David Krejci when the phone rang. I said 'I'm off to Atlanta.'
"At the time, it was a big shock and you never want to be traded but like I said, almost from the minute I was traded to Atlanta, I knew I had been given the opportunity to become the player I knew I could be."
The deal has since taken Wheeler to the Winnipeg Jets, where he's currently the leading scorer and playing a big role.
"Being traded is never an easy thing, especially when the team you get traded from wins the Stanley Cup," said Wheeler, who has 10 goals and 39 points in 58 games this season. "That can be hard sometimes, but it was best for both sides. For me, professionally it was the best move that could have happened to me and certainly the guys they got back in the trade helped them win the Stanley Cup. It was kind of a win-win situation and I feel really comfortable and at home here in Winnipeg. Hopefully, I'll be here for a long time."
It wasn't an easy start to his Jets' career as Wheeler went 18 games without a goal before he finally got on the board on Nov. 17.
"It was a bit of a tough start, having to deal with some adversity but now I feel I've earned my ice time," said Wheeler. "The coaching staff has put a lot of trust in me and that's what you want. You want coaches to want you out there in certain situations when the game is on the line. That gives you a lot of energy and a lot of motivation to go out there and be a difference-maker."
Stuart has become a valued member of the leadership group and the type of heart-and-soul player that all teams covet.
"(Stuart) is our biggest physical presence back there and he really helps us out in that department -- he's brought a lot of leadership and he's a great guy in the locker-room," said Jets winger Evander Kane. "Wheels is having a real good season and he's really seemed to find his game. They've brought a lot to our group."
21 AND COUNTING
Kane eclipsed his career high for goals on Thursday with his sixth two-goal game of the season.
"It's nice to get 20 out of the way and good to get over the hump," said Kane, who had 19 goals and 43 points in 73 games last season. "Now I can move forward and continue to hopefully play this way.
"Every year you're in the league you want to get better and build on what you did the previous year. For me, I don't want to take a step backward. It's great to set new personal highs but you want to continue to push for more."
Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian remains day-to-day after missing his second consecutive game with an undisclosed upper-body injury he sustained in Tuesday's loss to the New York Islanders.