On Wednesday, Sportsnet 590 The Fan host Andrew Walker asked star Winnipeg Jets centre Mark Scheifele to weigh in on this summer’s hottest hockey topic: “Who do you want on your team, Shea Weber or P.K. Subban?”
“Personally, I would take Shea Weber on my team,” said Scheifele, pressed to give a firm answer to hockey’s Team Edward/Team Jacob conundrum. “I’ve played against Shea Weber more. Being in the West, we only got to see P.K. twice this season. Being in Weber’s conference, I got to see him a lot.”
In three games played against Weber’s Nashville Predators last season, Scheifele managed two assists. One of those contests was a 7-0 blowout for the Preds.
Scheifele, 23, is a student of the game, one who enjoys comparing players and could one day see himself becoming a general manager.
While ageists, accountants and the analytics crowd all tout Subban as superior, it’s safe to say Scheifele is siding with hockey men like Marc Bergevin and Mike Babcock in preferring Weber right now.
“He’s just so strong. He can control a game. First off, his physicality is a huge asset of his. Every time he touches you, it feels like your bones are gonna crack — which is definitely a tough thing to deal with. He’s just a competitor,” Scheifele said on air.
“Every shift, he treats it like it’s his last shift. He’s just so tough to beat. He’s an all-around unbelievable player, and obviously his shot is dangerous as well.”
The young Jets play-maker, hot off inking an eight-year, $49-million extension, may be speaking from annecdotal experience.
In the Jets’ two games against Subban’s former team in 2015-16, Scheifele put up four points. En route to his first career hat trick, against the Montreal Canadiens on March 5, Scheifele scored after Subban blew a tire, an incident later singled out by TVA insider Renaud Lavoie as one that irked Habs management.
Though the Jets failed to make the playoffs in 2016, Scheifele enjoyed his best season as a pro.
He credited top-line winger Blake Wheeler with improving his confidence. The teammates have spoken about playing together more permanently and building on their late-season chemistry.
“That’s a letter I would aspire to. I want to be a leader, and each year I’ve tried to take that leadership role more and more into my daily life with the team,” Scheifele said.
“Blake Wheeler would make a great captain as well. He’s such a special player. He’s a special person as well. He works so hard. You never question his work ethic. If it’s a practice, a workout or a game, he’s always giving it his all.”