3 takeaways from Adam Lowry being named captain

Apr 20, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry (17) skates against the Vegas Golden Knights during the second period of game two of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 20, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Winnipeg Jets center Adam Lowry (17) skates against the Vegas Golden Knights during the second period of game two of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

Now that we’ve all had some time to digest the news that Adam Lowry has been named the new team captain, we can get to understanding what it means for the Winnipeg Jets.

Do Canadian markets need to have a captain?

Was naming a new captain post-Wheeler a critical step?

Does the Jets locker room have some serious rebuilding to do?

And what does it mean for the True North and the Jets organization?

Let’s dig in.

Prominent Flames player suggests Canadian markets need a captain

Stalwart defenseman Rasmus Andersson of the Calgary Flames had some poignant thoughts on playing in a Canadian market this past summer. The Swedish defender has spent his entire six year career as a member of the Flames, and last year was the second consecutive that they played without a captain.

With Lowry being named Winnipeg captain, I thought Andersson’s comments were intriguing.

“I feel like having a captain is something we missed the last few years,” Andersson told 32 Thoughts: The Podcast. “In a Canadian market you need someone to step up towards the media, the coaches, and the owners. There’s so much pressure on the players that, when we had Gio (former Flames captain Mark Giordano), he would embrace that and say like, ‘I’ll take this one’.”

“[Mikael] Backlund did it to a point last year, but even he said to me, I’m like, ‘Backs, you’re the captain’, and he says ‘I knowish, but I don’t have the “C” so I can’t do everything I want to.'”

It’s questioning like that that really makes me wonder how the Winnipeg Jets locker room handled the adversity that began in January last year after their well-documented hot start to the season. Was Blake Wheeler supposed to take a back seat, bite his tongue, and let the room play it out? Did Josh Morrissey or Lowry take charge and provide the team with direction to work toward? Or, coaching a captainless team, was it Rick Bowness who had to try (and fail) to rally the troops?

We can only imagine the tension.

Adversity is everyone and every team’s greatest test, and Winnipeg very blatantly failed in that regard. Both during the regular season, and after that inspiring game one victory against Vegas in the playoffs.

Would a more structured leadership group have helped?

“It’s such a fine line with (not having a captain) because in our room we know Backs is the captain, but for him it’s hard, right?” Andersson said. “We see him as the captain but he’s not the captain. I feel like in a Canadian market you really do need one, and if it’s me or someone else, it’s going to be the right call and it’s going to be the right step for our franchise to take the next step.”

The right step and the next step.

Winnipeg appeared to be in the same boat. They needed to truly move on from the Wheeler-led era, and not just by him playing his last game as a Jet, but by naming his replacement. To put a bow on a semi-successful six year run as captain, but also to have a clear voice as this Jets team moves toward the twilight of their extremely successful drafting run from 2011-2016.

And Adam Lowry is the guy to do it.

Opening up the room and keeping it that way

The Athletic’s Murat Ates had a great read on Lowry’s captaincy, but there was one quote for me that really stood out, which was quoting Rick Bowness.

"“When we took the ‘C’ away from Blake (Wheeler), we wanted to open up the room.”"

Which confirms a lot of the hearsay and questions Jets fans and reporters had when it came to Winnipeg’s locker room over the past few years. That it wasn’t exactly a harmonious group, that perhaps it was overly heirarchical, and that younger or fringe players were feeling less a part of the cause than is ideal.

No matter how bright your star power is, it takes twenty men to win a hockey game.

Particularly nowadays as coaches and management learn to embrace today’s generation of athletes. It’s critical for these players to feel like they’re part of the room, individually valued, and heard – whether from coaches or leadership. This stuff now really matters. Building a unified room and organization is one of those tasks that gets filed under stuff that happens in the background, and you obviously can’t measure it in goals or assists. But it’s one of those things that has an impact, as with any team sport. Team unity and “brotherhood” are terms that are frequently thrown around as important, but very hard to measure or accurately assess from the outside.

Regardless, it seems that the Jets have started on a new path where inclusivity and unity is a high priority.

And, given that Winnipeg has made four first round selections in the previous three drafts (with all four of them looking to at least have NHL careers), these new foundations will be critical for shepherding along the next wave of Winnipeg Jets.

The Winnipeg Jets finally get to name a home grown captain

For an ownership group such as True North Sports Entertainment that values loyalty as much as they do that also operates in non-marquee market, naming a home grown captain is a banner moment.

This franchise has always held strong with their draft and development mantra, and having a 3rd round pick such as Lowry rise to become their first drafted and developed captain is a big milestone.

It can also further symbolize some of the success this team has had in retaining their top talent. Which is especially worth highlighting now, after the departure of Pierre-Luc Dubois and the uncertainty surrounding Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck.

Sure, there are high profile players that have preferred to play their career elsewhere. But, as is often the case with smaller and less sunny markets, if you put together a winning program – or at least convince everyone else that you’re a winning program – many players will stay.

Lowry, Scheifele, Hellebuyck, Nik Ehlers, Kyle Connor, and Josh Morrissey have all stuck around as a testament to that. So too, did the likes of Wheeler, Bryan Little, and Dustin Byfuglien.

Now Lowry is tasked with leading the players through this exciting yet murky phase of the Winnipeg Jets. One that has finished retooling its defense group since Byfuglien and Co. left in 2019, but still needs improvement. One that has had two top six forwards depart in Wheeler and Dubois, and five forwards who did not start last season with Winnipeg. One that has a good but not great prospect pool.

And one who’s locker room and culture needs some serious work.

It’s time to let the next 82 games do the talking.