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Byfuglien Ready to Get Started

Former Blackhawk excited to be back on the blueline

Thursday, 16.09.2010 / 11:09 AM / Feature

Dustin Byfuglien was acquired for the Blackhawks in a blockbuster deal on June 24 after Rosseau, Minnesota dominated opposing defensemen in the playoffs on the way to a Stanley Cup Championship with Chicago. Now the player known as Big Buff is making a switch back to his natural position of defense where he'll bolster an already solid Thrashers blueline. Byfuglien arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday and took a few minutes to talk to about the switch from forward to defense, his thoughts on the trade that sent him to the Thrashers along with three other Blackhawks, and his impressions of Atlanta as a city.

The big question of the summer has been whether you'd play forward or defense and coach Ramsay said recently you'd suit up on D to start camp. What's your take on it? Are you excited to play defense again?

BYFUGLIEN: Yeah, I've always been a defenseman growing up. I came into the NHL as D and I've only played a couple years of forward. We talked a lot and had many conversations about what I was going to play and what they want me to play. So, yeah I'm going to play D to start off and I can always go back to forward. So defense is where I'm going to start.

You've played 299 games in your NHL career counting regular season and playoffs. What percentage do you think were spent at forward?

BYFUGLIEN: It's probably been more on forward than defense now. I really don't know. It might be right in the middle.

What year did you make the switch?

BYFUGLIEN: I made the switch three years ago, in 2007-08. This would be the third year I played forward, but I played some defense last year too. It's about even. I think I had 70 or 80 games as dman before I got switched, then I went back and forth since.

What is it about playing defense that makes you prefer it over playing up at forward?

BYFUGLIEN: It's just coming up the ice and being able to see everything and being able to read the game. You control so much more of the game back there. It's just something I enjoy doing.

What went through your mind when you were told about the trade?

BYFUGLIEN: Right away I was actually bummed. After coming off of winning the Cup, it wasn't even two weeks after we won. You're still in a celebration mode, but once I got off the phone and sat down and really thought about it I was excited. I was ready to get out of there and get ready for a new change and set new goals for myself. I'm excited and I can challenge myself for new things in life. It's just another step.

Your agent posted some pictures on Twitter of you posing with the Stanley Cup in a Thrashers jersey. was that a way of turning the page?

BYFUGLIEN: Pretty much. Someone sent the jersey to me so I took a picture to say it's a new chapter- let's get going.

Switching back to defense you'll have a familiar face coaching you with John Torchetti being in charge of the Thrashers blueline. What can you say about him from your time together in Chicago?

BYFUGLIEN:  It's going to be interesting. He'll be fun. He'll help us out a lot. He ran power play and forwards in Chicago. He's kind of quiet as a coach. He'll tap you on the shoulder and tell you "Good job" but he knows how to keep the kids in line too and how to get them going. He reads players really well.

Sum up each of the other guys coming from Chicago in one phrase or sentence.

Brent Sopel- BYFUGLIEN: A real family guy who loves his Red Bull.

Ben Eager- BYFUGLIEN: Simple, funny, and a character.

Andrew Ladd- BYFUGLIEN: Just a meathead.

Akim Aliu- BYFUGLIEN: Have you seen his hair lately? That explains it all.

Not counting the other former Blackhawks, who do you know on the Thrashers roster?

BYFUGLIEN: Aside from the other Blackhawks Slater is the only one I really know. I know him just from skating with him in Minnesota.

How much time have you spent in Atlanta?

BYFUGLIEN: Besides the one road trip I played, I got delayed here a couple times in the airport. Imagine that. That's it though.

What have you heard about the city?

BYFUGLIEN: I've heard really good things about Atlanta to be honest with you. I'll have no problem getting around and having a good time and seeing the city.

What's on your list of things to do in Atlanta?

BYFUGLIEN: I wouldn't mind catching a ball game for sure, and maybe catching a football game. Just get out and see the city and get to know it a little bit better.

For more from Big Buff watch this Thrashers TV video:






1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67


B. Wheeler 82 28 41 4 69
B. Little 82 23 41 8 64
D. Byfuglien 78 20 36 -20 56
A. Ladd 78 23 31 8 54
O. Jokinen 82 18 25 -8 43
M. Frolik 81 15 27 8 42
E. Kane 63 19 22 -7 41
M. Scheifele 63 13 21 9 34
T. Enstrom 82 10 20 -9 30
J. Trouba 65 10 19 4 29
A. Montoya 13 8 3 .920 2.30
O. Pavelec 22 26 7 .901 3.01