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Blake Wheeler defends Laine, plus Paul Maurice's comments

september 17, 2019
Patrik Laine says he's holding out for more than just money. The big Fin indicated that he is also pursuing a larger role with the team and requesting more playing time with top liners Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele.

Sportsnet was able to connect with Winnipeg Jets Captain Blake Wheeler on Tuesday to get his take on the whole Laine situation. Wheeler came to the defense of the 21-year-old sniper, praising him for his desire to claim a larger role on the team. He gave Laine a lot of credit for his work on the Jets' top PP unit, which has been among the best in the league over the last 3 seasons. Wheeler was quick to add that Laine is certainly not doing it alone with the man-advantage, but he takes nothing away from #29 and acknowledges how integral the elite sniper has been to its success.

Wheeler commends Laine for stepping up in these negotiations and informing the team that he wishes to take on a larger role and more responsibility. Wheeler says, these are "all good things". He went on to state that there is absolutely no ill will against Laine from within the Jets' locker room, because everyone understands that this is all just a part of the business side of the game.

When Laine is not burying the biscuit, he leaves much to be desired on the defensive side of things, but that is a trait that is not uncommon among younger players. It is worth stating that it does take some time to carve out a solid two-way game, especially in the NHL, where there is much less time and space and a single mistake can be quite costly. At 21-years-old, Laine still has plenty of time to strengthen his defensive play and some ice time alongside Captain Blake Wheeler, who may be able to provide some quality on-ice direction to the young Fin, may be just what the doctor ordered.

You have to admire Wheeler for leading by example and supporting his teammates regardless of the circumstance. It just shows what a consummate pro Wheeler is, not allowing the business side of the game to interfere with the team chemistry and atmosphere in the locker room.



Paul Maurice had this to say regarding Laine's request for more top line playing time; "I'd like to play with Sidney Crosby, if I'm a player. I'd really like to, but Phil didn't play there and neither does Evgeni, and Patty Kane doesn't play with Jonathan consistently."

This could get ugly..

Will Laine sign before the Jets' season opener?
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