At the 2007 AHL All-Star Skills Competition, defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, then with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, won the hardest shot competition with a blast that was clocked at 98.7 miles per hour. So it’s obvious that Byfuglien can fire a puck, which makes it even more frightening that the Jets defenseman put a blast on goal that caught winger Blake Wheeler in the head.
Wheeler, 29, was forced to leave practice early after taking the puck to the head. Wheeler was able to skate off under his own power, but could be seen holding a towel to the side of his head. The footage, via Sportsnet, can be seen below:
"He got off the ice under his own power and he was coherent, so he's going to get checked out," Jets coach Paul Maurice said following practice. But what that means for Wheeler as pertains to Saturday’s contest against the Arizona Coyotes is to be seen. Thankfully, Wheeler has no history with concussions. No history, however, doesn’t preclude him from the possibility of having a head injury after taking a puck to the head.
Losing Wheeler would be a significant blow for the Jets who just snapped a six-game losing streak. Through 20 games, Wheeler is leading Winnipeg with 21 points and is second only to Bryan Little with eight goals. Wheeler is on pace to surpass his career-high of 28 goals and 69 points. If he maintained his current scoring rate, he would end the season with 33 goals and 86 points.
An update is expected on Wheeler Saturday.