The Winnipeg Jets will be without captain Blake Wheeler for the foreseeable future. After initially being placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol watch on Monday, he has once again tested positive and is experiencing symptoms of the virus.
The remainder of the Jets tested negative for COVID, but Wheeler is now officially out and in a 10-day isolation waiting period in Minnesota, to which he will remain until at least October 28. He will need to be 24-hours free of symptoms by the time his isolation period is over.
Due to NHL protocol, Wheeler will also need to undergo cardiac testing, due to the team revealing he has been symptomatic. Inflammation of the heart, or myocarditis, is a common side effect of those Wheeler’s age who have been diagnosed with symptomatic COVID. And EKG and echo test will be conducted by a team doctor or cardiologist in advance of his return to the lineup – Relevant symptoms include: persistent cough, feeling feverish or chills, muscle, body aches or fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or a fever with a temperature greater than 38 C or 100.4 F.
“I guess it’s a little bit of an awakening, possibly, but we still got to go out and play hockey,” forward Andrew Copp said following Tuesday’s skate in Minnesota. “We’re lucky enough to have everyone vaccinated so, hopefully, that keeps it out, maybe, just that hair more. Some guys have had it, so hopefully, that immunity lasts.”
The Jets will go with 11 forwards and seven defenceman on Tuesday night in their battle with the Minnesota Wild. With Wheeler no longer serving the team on wing in his regular top-line role alongside Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor, Andrew Copp will slide up the depth chart and take over atop the team’s No. 1 scoring line.
“Just trying to treat it like an injury right now,” Copp added of Wheeler’s upcoming absence. “Obviously, we’ve played some games without Blake in the past, so everyone is just going to have to step up.”
Cole Perfetti will be a healthy scratch, while Evgeny Svechnikov will slot back into the lineup after missing Saturday’s game in San Jose. On defence, Nathan Beaulieu will also draw in for his first appearance of the season on the blueline. Puck Drop is set for 7:00 PM central from Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN.