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Byfuglien excited about NHL's return to Manitoba

Saturday, 25.06.2011 / 3:32 PM / Feature
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Byfuglien excited about NHL\'s return to Manitoba
Dustin Byfuglien - the closest thing to a hometown star with Winnipeg\'s new franchise - is excited for NHL hockey\'s return to Manitoba.
ST. PAUL – Winnipeg is new territory for most members of the recently relocated franchise now known as the Jets.

The current Jets roster doesn't feature any Manitoba-born players, so 2010 playoffs scoring star-turned-defenseman Dustin Byfuglien might have to serve as the club's honorary Manitoban. Byfuglian, who grew up in Roseau, Minn., stopped by the NHL Entry Draft on Saturday morning.

Roseau is a two-hour trip from Winnipeg – a short hop by prairie standards – and Byfuglien logged a brief stint with the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings at the start of his junior career. Brandon is a quick drive down the Trans-Canada Highway and the team counts new Winnipeg senior vice president and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and executive vice president and director of hockey operations/assistant general manager Craig Heisinger among its alumni.

Since then, Byfuglien's career has blossomed. The 26-year-old won a Stanley Cup in 2010 with Chicago, where Cheveldayoff then served as an assistant general manager. A trade last summer that included Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd sent Byfuglien to the former Atlanta franchise, and Byfuglien delivered a career-best season with 20 goals and 33 assists over 81 games after becoming a fulltime defenseman.

Now Byfuglien is on the move again, though this journey will bring him closer to Roseau. Byfuglien said he expects more requests from his family. Given that Winnipeg sold 13,000 season-ticket deposits in just four days and a Jets ticket could be among the most sought-after in the League, it may not be easy for Byfuglien.

But Byfuglien said he believes that a full MTS Centre is going to be a tremendous boost for the Jets. What's more, he expressed support for True North Sports & Entertainment Limited's decision to respond to intense public fervour for the club to adopt the Jets name.

"It's going to be fun," Byfuglien said. "It's going to be exciting. Any time you have a full building behind you, it's just like having another player on the ice."

Winnipeg's oft-discussed winter climate will not be an issue, Byfuglien predicted.

The Jets in turn hope to repay the local enthusiasm by delivering a hard-working club with a young core that is beginning to find its way in the League.  The former Atlanta franchise reached the Stanley Cup playoffs only in over 11 seasons, and the club has not played a postseason game since 2007. But Byfuglien sees reason for hope.

"It will be a fun team to watch," Byfuglien said. "Everyone should be excited. I think we're more than capable of making [the playoffs], and there is no reason that we should be satisfied with not making it."

Yet another change for Byfuglien and his teammates is new head coach Claude Noel, who will in turn hire an all-new coaching staff.

"Good guy -- I have no problems so far," Byfuglien said, smiling.

Author: Patrick Williams | NHL.com Correspondent

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 35 22 8 5 101 96 49
2 CHI 33 22 9 2 102 67 46
3 STL 33 21 9 3 100 81 45
4 NSH 31 21 8 2 87 64 44
5 SJS 34 19 11 4 97 87 42
6 VAN 32 19 11 2 92 90 40
7 WPG 33 17 10 6 80 76 40
8 LAK 34 17 11 6 94 84 40
9 CGY 35 17 15 3 100 95 37
10 MIN 31 16 12 3 91 84 35
11 DAL 31 13 13 5 89 104 31
12 COL 32 11 13 8 83 100 30
13 ARI 32 11 17 4 74 104 26
14 EDM 33 7 20 6 69 110 20

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Ladd 33 11 12 2 23
B. Wheeler 33 9 14 2 23
B. Little 33 12 9 4 21
D. Byfuglien 33 7 10 1 17
M. Scheifele 33 6 11 2 17
M. Frolik 33 7 9 7 16
M. Perreault 32 5 9 0 14
E. Kane 23 6 7 2 13
J. Trouba 31 4 8 3 12
T. Enstrom 22 1 8 -1 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Hutchinson 7 2 2 .940 1.73
O. Pavelec 10 8 4 .916 2.27
 
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