Gentlemen, you may want to shield your eyes for this one.
Murat Ates of The Athletic reported Friday morning that Blake Wheeler, set to return tonight for the Winnipeg Jets against the Tampa Bay Lighting after missing nine games, suffered a ruptured testicle against the Nashville Predators on December 15th.
Every crazier? Wheeler finished the game, playing more than 18 minutes in the 2-1 Jets victory.
Wheeler was injured on a shot by teammate Josh Morrissey during the second period of the game, and while he did briefly head down the tunnel, the Jets veteran played the entire third period.
According to Ates, the ailment wasn’t even diagnosed until the following day and was initially described vaguely as a groin injury. While the impact surely couldn’t have felt great, Wheeler was seemingly unaware of the full extent of the injury.
“There’s a difference between being hurt and being injured,” Wheeler told reporters on Thursday. “I didn’t know I was injured until the next day.”
This also isn’t the first time Wheeler has put the family jewels on the line for his club. During the 2021 playoffs, Wheeler’s eggs were proverbially scrambled while blocking a shot by Edmonton Oilers defenceman Kris Russell.
Once the news made its way to Twitter, the reactions ranged from squeamish to shocked and everything in between, as fans squirmed at the thought, likely pulling their legs together a little bit tighter in support (or, perhaps more adequately, in dismay).
Wheeler’s return coincides with a Jets team finally starting to get healthy after a poor December saw their Central Division lead vanish.
Alongside Wheeler’s return, several other key contributors including Cole Perfetti, Nate Schmidt and Nik Ehlers, who has missed all but two games this season following sports hernia surgery, are all set to return to Winnipeg’s lineup on Friday.
They’ll help bolster a team that has come out of the Christmas break with a renewed sense of purpose. They’ve won three of four since returning from the holidays, including victories over all three of their Western Canadian rivals.
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