Updated: Roenick blasts Thrashers for Byfuglien’s move to defense

To start the blog, we’ll begin with what Jeremy Roenick said on his weekly radio show about the Thrashers moving Dustin Byfuglien to defense. He also took a couple shots at Atlanta fans and the general manager.

Roenick: “That might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.  Dustin Byfuglien as a defenseman.  I would love to play against Dustin Byfuglien as a defenseman.  I would turn him inside out, left, right and center every single time.  This kid, he made his living in front of the net scoring goals during the playoffs for the Chicago Blackhawks.  Why on earth would you put him back as a defenseman?  This kid is strong, he’s powerful, he’s a great skater.  Put him in front of the net as a forward.  That’s where you want him to do all his damage.  Playing him as a defenseman?  Maybe that’s why the Thrashers are 0-3 in preseason.   Maybe that’s why nobody comes to watch their games.  It’s crazy.  What are they thinking?  They already have a GM that doesn’t know the game whatsoever.  But, hey, that’s just my opinion.  Like me or hate me if you don’t [agree].  I’m not a big fan of Atlanta for a lot of reasons but the fact that they’re going to play Dustin Byfuglien [as a defenseman], my goodness gracious.”

So, Rick Dudley “doesn’t know the game whatsoever”? Who knew?

By the way, the subject of Byfuglien came up in my post-practice interview with Craig Ramsay. Byfuglien was given the day off as he continues to nurse an ankle injury.

“He needs some rest,” Ramsay said. “We like the way he’s played and he’s coming. He’s really doing a good job for us. We’ve liked what we’ve seen. We need to give him a little break.”

In other news:

* The roster for tomorrow’s exhibition against Nashville is below.  Nik Antropov told me he will play in the game, making his preseason debut.

“Obviously I’m not going to be 100 percent,” Antropov said of the start of the regular season. “It was not a minor injury that I went through. It’s going to take some time, but I’m close enough. Hopefully tomorrow is going to be a good test for me.

“Just get my legs back. Practice is a practice, you can skate as fast as you can or score 100 goals, nobody cares. Just get myself back into game situations, the speed, the positioning, the little things. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to put one in or set someone up. The main thing is just to get back in there.”

Ramsay said he is looking forward to seeing Antropov on the ice and working on the new systems.

“He looks really good,” Ramsay said. “He feels ready. That would be great. We just have to get him a game. You can’t expect miracles. He’s a big, strong body and he has to start learning what we are doing. It’s one thing to practice it and another to carry it into a game.”

* In other practice notes, Jim Slater and Enver Lisin did not practice. Ramsay did not have an update on Slater’s condition.

* I don’t want to make this blog too long, but I asked Ramsay if he is concerned about the Thrashers lack of scoring during the preseason. They have just three goals in three losses. Here is what he had to say:

“Sure it is, but we expect to score. What we are doing right now is we are hesitating, we are thinking. There are times when we are overtrying in the offensive zone. That’s one of the hazards of not scoring. You do two things. One you just stay back and try not to get scored against. Or, you get three guys standing in the goal crease, which we had a little of last night. We had one great rush and a wide-angle shot. [Alexander] Burmistrov jumped to the middle and the puck went right through the dot, just like we told them it would. Had he been there, it was maybe a freebie. The effort was wonderful, but smart is what we are trying to accomplish. In order to do that they have to relax a little bit and just play. Because we’ve covered a lot of things perhaps they are hesitating just a little bit thinking about if they are doing the right thing instead of just reacting.”

* Here are the line combinations from practice today (in no particular order). Ramsay said not to read too much into them as he is just mixing things up to see what might work.






Roster for game vs. Preds (There will be two scratches):

Forwards (13): Antropov, Burmistrov, Dawes, Eager, Kane, Ladd, Little, Modin, Pettersson, Peverley, Rissmiller, Stewart, Thorburn.

Defense (7): Bogosian, Enstrom, Hainsey, Kulda, Meyer, Oduya, Sopel.

Goaltender (2): Mason, Pavelec

96 comments Add your comment


September 28th, 2010
3:44 pm

I’d be willing to take his opinion over anyone that works for the Thrashers until I see results


September 28th, 2010
3:47 pm

I wonder what Mr. Roenick has to say about the Thrashers unwisely underutilizing THE SLAVA.


September 28th, 2010
3:48 pm

Maybe his GM reference was to the Don.

What does JR and the Atlanta Thrashers have in common? Neither has won a Stanley Cup


September 28th, 2010
3:49 pm

I agree that Buff should play forward, but JR’s rant and cheap shots at Duds is uncalled for. Duds should just cover his ears with his two stanley cup rings. (1 from tampa and another vicarious one from Chicago)


September 28th, 2010
3:51 pm

Honestly, I’ve always thought Roenick was a buffoon. As for Byfuglien on D, I’m undecided.


September 28th, 2010
3:51 pm

I would vote to replace Dudley with Roenick in a heartbeat. If nothing else, the post game press conferences, interviews, even watching him in the press box during the games would make the team far more entertaining.


September 28th, 2010
3:55 pm

Much like with Don Cherry, when J.R. talks, most folks tune him out. While both men do bring up good points when they speak, they tend to throw in stupid comments that make what they’re saying sound moronic.

There have been others that have commented that the moving of Byfuglien to the blueline may not be a good idea, but they’ve done it in a manner that doesn’t insult people.

J.R. is acting as though the 0-3 record in the preseason is a bad thing. While it sucks that they’ve yet to win in preseason, two of the three games they lost by 1 goal. Now had the games against Carolina and Nashville been like the game against Columbus, yeah you could make an argument that something is not working right. Let’s see, a new coaching staff, a new system, a number of new players, things that take some time to get used to.

J.R. really ought to reserve judgment on this move until about 10 games into the season. Then again, when is comes to shooting one’s mouth off, he’s a hall of famer.

Big Shooter

September 28th, 2010
3:58 pm

In full agreement with JR, on everything.


September 28th, 2010
3:58 pm

I don’t think Roenick should make any assumptions until the real season begins….

Big Shooter

September 28th, 2010
4:01 pm

Fockerman – For the record Rick Dudley doesn’t have a Stanley Cup ring. I know JR doesn’t either, just saying…


September 28th, 2010
4:03 pm

While his rantings are off base and uncalled for I do agree that Byfuglien should be playing forward instead of defense.

Gunga Galunga

September 28th, 2010
4:03 pm

I seem to remember Roenick trying to go left, right, and center on Darian Hatcher back in the day, as well. Didn’t work out too well for Roenick, as they had to wire his jaw shut for several weeks and he drank his meals through a straw. But, I guess big defensemen are rare in this game (Pronger, Chara, Hatcher, Gill, Meyers, Hedman, etc., etc., etc.).

In all seriousness, I would prefer Buff at Forward too. I just can’t stand Roenick and his loud….LOUD MOUTH.


September 28th, 2010
4:05 pm

LOL – hearing Roenick say that makes me cry like a… well like Roenick after the Blackhawks won the cup.

Wasn’t it established that Buff asked to play D?


September 28th, 2010
4:06 pm

This comment has me wondering whether JR is aware that we had a GM change in Atlanta. I’ve heard people criticize Dudley but never on knowledge of the game. Criticism usually goes something like, “Well he knows the game (and everyone in it) but he’s never succeeded when he was the guy in charge.”

In short, this has me once again wondering if JR knows what he’s talking about. But that doesn’t necessarily make Buf on D a good thing.


September 28th, 2010
4:06 pm

Reonick – The Mouth that Roared. Anything to get your name in print. When he’s coach he can play the guys where he sees fit. I do, however, agree with him. Would rather see Buff as a forward, but, last time I checked my opinion didn’t carry much weight. This is between Duds, Rammer, and Buff.

Jeremy H

September 28th, 2010
4:07 pm

You might hate it, but JR hit the nail on the head. He said what we’ve all been thinking about the Byfuglien move.


September 28th, 2010
4:07 pm

I love JR. He is always entertaining. I agree with his view on Buff, but leave us fans out of it ha.


September 28th, 2010
4:07 pm

I’d be willing to bet almost anything that JR still thinks Waddell is the GM

Zombie Steve

September 28th, 2010
4:12 pm

I got mad respect for JR, but he’s got some diarrhea of the mouth here…. someone get this guy some Pepto.

Front Butt Tea Bag

September 28th, 2010
4:19 pm

Then he cried like a bitch because he didn’t win anything with the Blackhawks and told people criticizing the lockout to STFU. Then he got drunk and crashed a car with his best friend in the passenger seat


September 28th, 2010
4:25 pm

Ever notice how Jeff Schultz, The Man Who Wants Hockey in Atlanta to FAIL, never writes about anything disparaging about Rick Dudley like he did about Waddell.

Schultz absolutely FEARS Rick Dudley, and he certainly should.

I would very much enjoy seeing GM Dudley pound Jeff Schultz into the ice.


September 28th, 2010
4:26 pm

Ever notice?


September 28th, 2010
4:26 pm

Just because Waddell is not GM does not mean he still does not have any input. Can’t believe that clown actually thought the chelios thing would work.


September 28th, 2010
4:27 pm

Yep, shut yer piehole, J.R..


September 28th, 2010
4:28 pm

i thought it was dany heatley that did the car crash with his best friend in the passenger seat…

Totally agree that Buff should play forward.

Thomas Paine

September 28th, 2010
4:30 pm

Does Roenick know that Dustin Byfuglien played defense for the first three years he was in the NHL?

JK Sockey

September 28th, 2010
4:31 pm

First of all, his shot about the GM is at Don Waddell and it goes back to being left off of the Olympic team a few years ago. But regarding Bunufglinyn, Roenick is right on target!

The Thrashers are already light on goal scorers and to take somebody who finally found his game during the ‘Hawks playoff run, and make him a below average blueliner is plain stupid. They are costing a kid like Kulda ice time and taking a big time scoring threat out of the picture. This team is run like a circus.

For those of you taking shots at JR, on his WORST night, he played with more heart, emotion, and physicallity than any 10 Thrashers combined ever have:


September 28th, 2010
4:35 pm

Mary, you are a putz. Schultz is the only columnist in this town that will give any significant amount of time to wrting about the Thrashers. if you actually read what he writes you might understand his problems have been with mismanagement from Octocluster down through Waddell. He wants hockey to succeed here. He just knows it has been a very ugly uphill, battle that looks no closer to reaching the summit 10 years in with 2, five year plans down and work starting on a new one.

Fear Dudley?? His job is to write. Who the heck is afraid of that? And if so, they should not be in a position of importance.

And my apologies on the putz comment. That was uncalled for.

Kovy's Agent

September 28th, 2010
4:35 pm

Over/under on when the Byf to defense experiment ends? I say 15 games.


September 28th, 2010
4:46 pm

“A player playing in a different position than normal during training camp in preseason? Not on my watch. STUPID STUPID STUPID”

~ Jeremy Roenick

liquid fart

September 28th, 2010
4:49 pm

I agree entirely about his comments regarding Buf. We traded for a power forward who makes a living in front of the net. I don’t care if Buf wants to play goalie.. what that guy did in the playoffs was amazing. That’s who we traded for. Obviously it’s a “who knows what you’ll get” situation now with Buf on D..whereas you know what you get with him as a forward..that’s just my opinion that agrees with his on that part..and JR gets paid for his opinion..but the ego and unprofessionalism is nauseous…and I can’t stand the guy either.. anyone else I woulda laughed it off..but his career is over..he can’t do any of that to any NHL D, he can’t play anymore.

Joe Friday

September 28th, 2010
4:52 pm

I agree with the Sock. First off, JR is obviously taking a shot at Waddell, he forgot we have a new GM (lol, like Waddell still isn’t in charge, but Duds does have the GM nameplate).

Taking Buf back to d, especially when we are weak on scoring up front, is a laughably bad decision. I have watched Hawks hockey every year, Buf blew on d, he was awesome at forward. But I feel pretty confident that they’ll move him back up front sooner rather than later.


September 28th, 2010
4:58 pm

Viv-Be sure to get Byfuglien’s and others take on the JR comments. I would be interested to see if any wall quotes in the lockeroom would have much effect right now.


September 28th, 2010
5:26 pm

interesting that Valabik isnt playing again… could he be gone soon?


September 28th, 2010
5:32 pm

You think Somebody needs to tell JR that Buff wass drafted at D? He looked good against Carolina to me.


September 28th, 2010
5:56 pm

Look at first six regular season games on the schedule. If we can only score 1 to 2 goals per game, it could be a rocky start. We’ve seen this line juggling before in preseason and we have gotten off to slow starts. With only 3 games left its time to firm things up, stop the Buff on D experiment. He isn’t a top 4 D-man, but would be a top six forward.


September 28th, 2010
5:58 pm

I would love to see Buff used on Defense if that is where he is happiest and if he can perform there. Let’s face it, we have not had a great history with D-men in Atlanta.

BUT, and it is a big but, I would play him on the first line powerplay in front of the net.

This way we get 4 good minutes in his best scoring position and see if he can be a great defenseman.

Chara does it, why can’t Big Buff…

Alan R.

September 28th, 2010
6:02 pm

Roenick amuses me. Tell me, Jeremy, every reason you don’t like Atlanta. Go ahead. We’re all waiting with bated breath.

I bet you only have one reason, and it involves the former GM.


September 28th, 2010
6:03 pm

Somebody has a mancrush on J.R..


September 28th, 2010
6:05 pm

So we can agree with JR about our former GM, why not his opinion about where Buff should play?

Sage of Bluesland

September 28th, 2010
6:12 pm

Screw that guy. What classless buffoon bags on a whole city, just because of the up-to-now mismanagement of its hockey club. He should talk about a team he actually knows about, instead of bitching about our preseason record. Preseason? Seriously?

What an ass-clown. I just pasted this into an email; we’ll see what JR has to say about it.


September 28th, 2010
6:12 pm

I too was surprised when Dudley first floated the idea of Buff playing D as was a former D partner of his. But is it the “stupidest thing ever”? I’m reminded what his D partner also said, “Buff can play any position he wants”. It may just turn out to be a very good thing. Is it possible that there is another side of this that is being overlooked?

He’s young and in 2-3 years may be a Chris Pronger – who he learned a thing or two from last year. We know he’s physical, can skate, move the puck, and shoot – the type of D-man Ramsay is looking for. If he and Bogo both put up 15 and 20+ from the blue line along with 5 and 35+ from Enstrom, I’ll take it and what team wouldn’t? Who else is going to pot 35+ from the blue line? Hainsey maybe, Oduya less so, and certainly not Sopel, Meyer, Valabik, Zubarev, or Kulda. Look at the production the Blue Lines of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington put up last year. Where’d that get them?


September 28th, 2010
6:21 pm

The one thing JR and everyone else who laughs at this decision seems to forget is that Buff is a natural defense playing out of position at forward. Much like Little is a natural center who was playing out of position at wing. At Buff’s age, it’s right when big, shutdown d-men, start to figure it out.
How can Roenick say he would skate around him in one sentence and then call him a great skater later? Roenick loves stirring the pot, like when he told fans to kiss his a$$ during the lockout. Great player, but he needs to do a little more research before he speaks, because most of what he said here is completely out of turn.

icy nards

September 28th, 2010
6:27 pm

Updated: Roenick blasts ignorance from his pie-hole.


September 28th, 2010
6:30 pm

Roenick’s being a jerk – but he’s right on the substance of the argument. Buf should be at forward. The team didn’t give up Morin so they could play Hainesy on the bottom pair.


September 28th, 2010
6:52 pm

If it works, great. But I’ve always thought, like Joe Friday and so many others have said, that Byfuglien opens up space for our other forwards, and would be best suited for a Top Six forward slot.

Slappy White

September 28th, 2010
6:55 pm

Roenick is awesome. He has every right to insult this franchise. And the fans shouldn’t be offended. He’s not dissing the fans, he’s dissing the lack of fans.

Look at the talent we’ve had in Atlanta over the last 10 years….nothing to show for it. We are a laughing stock.

Red Light

September 28th, 2010
7:20 pm

Roenick played with, among others, former Thrashers Jeff Cowan, Mike Weaver, Chris Chelios and Mark Recchi. Recchi wasn’t offered a contract after his brief stay here. Chelios was used as a prop. Cowan was traded and Weaver left for “greener pastures.”

And, of course, last but not least, Team USA general manager Don Waddell left Roenick off the 2006 US Olympic Hockey Team!

Nah, that couldn’t be it!


September 28th, 2010
7:23 pm

Byfuglien: Defenseman or forward? I don’t know, let me say that first. Second, I have heard a lot of people on here say a lot of stuff one way or the other, so that is a wash. Third, I tend to believe the Thrashers have hired themselves a good coaching staff and a good GM. Fourth, the player has primarily played defense throughout his career and has stated it is his preference and he asked to play defense here. Fifth, the head coach, the GM and the player are in agreement that Byfuglien will play defense. Sixth, if Byfuglien is good at the position he will be one hell of a force to deal with. Seventh, he can play at the crease on the PP or rotate up high. Eighth, going back to point number three, until we see reasons otherwise during the season, I remain in IDWT mode, which includes the coaches and the player in this matter. And ninth, it is not IDWTUHDWM.

Don Waddle

September 28th, 2010
7:47 pm

Jeremy, you should be ashamed for talking about Duds like that!! Don’t you know how tough it is to follow a legend like myself? C’mon give the man a break.

And our fans??? Please……tell me the last game where we had NOBODY?. There was always “somebody” at our games.

Next thing ya know you’ll be talking smack about our man, C-Vivs.