Five Questions With … Dustin Byfuglien

Dustin Byfuglien was another Thrashers player to post career-highs in goals (20), assists (33) and points (53). He led all NHL defensemen in goals and was fourth in points. Byfuglien, who won the Stanley Cup in Chicago last season, made the All-Star team  after the much-discussed position change. He was named an alternate captain and rewarded with a five-year, $26 million contract in February.

In the second of a series of interviews with Thrashers players following the 2010-11 season, here is some of what Byfuglien had to say about his leadership role, his summer conditioning plans and the disappointment of not making the playoffs.

Q. Disappointed you didn’t make the playoffs, but what are your overall impressions of the season? Is it what you expected?

A. There were a lot of ups and downs. I had, personally, a good year. I figured out that I can be a leader around here. I’m going to be around here awhile now. We have a lot of potential. The year didn’t end on a good note but we can take a lot of good things out of the season.

Q. You made the all-star team as a defenseman and got a big contract for your play. Do you consider that position your career path?

A. Yes, as of right now I see that being the career path. I’m honored to be able to get a contract like that and have the team lock me up for that long. With them giving me a leadership role this year and really taking on a lot of things I was really iffy on coming into the season – like this will be a little different. You know what? I had a lot of fun. I went out there and met a lot of good guys and a lot of young kids that will be fun playing with in the future.

Q. Both Craig Ramsay and Rick Dudley said a big part of this team moving forward is to come to training camp in top condition. What will your summer be like with that in mind?

A. I guess a little less boat time and more working out, committing myself to being the best and trying to be on top. They have given me a reason to try to be the top player I can be. Now it’s up to me to run with it.

Q. Great success the first half of the year, both team and individually. The second half dropped off. Was there a reason? Were teams playing you differently?

A. I guess they played a little big tighter. I think when everything was a struggle, everyone struggled together. It’s hard to pinpoint what caused it. The whole team just went down.

Q. After being at the pinnacle last year and now an early summer, how do to process that? Do you get angry?

A. It’s disappointing. It’s definitely not time to be starting a summer. The fun should actually be starting right now. Realistically, the fun is in the playoffs. That’s what means something. Each season means a lot to make the playoffs. Once you make the playoffs, anything can happen. … It’s something that I know once guys get a taste of, they are never going to want to be out of. It’s something that feels good and is fun to be a part of.

The series will continue over the next couple of weeks. Coming Monday, Zach Bogosian.

23 comments Add your comment

DHDc

April 15th, 2011
9:06 am

Thomas Magnum

April 15th, 2011
9:14 am

Can’t wait to see what Bogosian has to say about the steamer he left on the ice this year.

KLS1

April 15th, 2011
9:26 am

Bringing in Buff and signing him was probably the best thing this franchise has done. Cannot think of a deal that had more impact right away and for the future.

Sherry Taylor

April 15th, 2011
10:14 am

Imagine if he shows up in condition in the fall.

T

April 15th, 2011
10:37 am

BIG BUFF! my favorite player on the team!

Sam

April 15th, 2011
10:41 am

I’m with you, Sherry. Aa big, strong guy with vision, who can skate as well as Buff, has a whole world of potential. But I think maybe conditioning could be a question mark with him historically. It’s certainly an opportunity for him to set a standard and lead with his actions, his body and his performance…through the whole season. Buff had an ankle injury that caused him some decrease in production, but I bet going from his minutes as a forward to the increased TOI as a D-man had him huffing and puffing a bit, mid-season, as well. ATL upgraded the roster when they signed him long-term. Glad to have him here!

EA

April 15th, 2011
10:51 am

I love this guy and his answers. Thanks.

JSR

April 15th, 2011
11:19 am

Joe McGrath

April 15th, 2011
11:22 am

C Viv: So you scored 20 as a defensemman. If you’d have played forward, how many more goals do you think you could have scored?
Buff: Hmmm. Probably another 10. Maybe even 15 or 20.
C VIv: Do you think another 10 or 15 goals would have helped this team win a few more games?
Buff: (long pause) Yeah. Probably.

Yuvno Ballzerdik

April 15th, 2011
11:24 am

Byf will help turn this around, I think he played hurt from just before the all-star break on. I’d like to see him be a little more physical, but overall he was better than advertised and he certainly made that worthless big-chinned dullard Jeremy Roenick eat his words. Glad he signed long term, hope it helps to get Wheeler and Ladd on board as well and possibly other players via free agency. When players speak positively about an organization it is heard through the grapevine and hopefully the message is that Atlanta is heading in the right direction so players will sign here with no fear of ending up in a cesspool like Wienerpeg or frenchy-ville Queerbec.

thrash head

April 15th, 2011
11:33 am

Foxsports posted a story that the Coyotes are close to being sold to a group that will move them to Winnipeg. If true, this may have bought us another year.

Big Deuce

April 15th, 2011
11:57 am

I find it very odd that all of a sudden half of the thrashers were playing with injuries and that caused their bad play and lack of production? I keep seeing posts on all these blogs about this player was injured and that player was injured and thats why they played poorly. The reality is that the players and the team just aren’t that good!

Yuvno Ballzerdik

April 15th, 2011
12:51 pm

Our team had 8 concussions according to Dudley. All teams battle injuries and add to that our lack of depth thanks to a previous GM and it is what it is. We couldn’t replace Slater of all people and our roster had to rely on young players and career AHL’ers.

Cornbread

April 15th, 2011
3:14 pm

Can we finally stop with the talk of Buff moving up front? It’s not going to happen. Nor should it. The critics like Roenick were proven wrong about him defensively as were the critics that said he would not do anything offensively in ATL because he was without Kane and Toews.

Not only did Buff break a personal scoring record, he broke franchise records of shots on goal in a year(more than Hossa and Kovalchuk), and points by a defenceman. The guy is an offensive defenceman who is changing the way the game is played. He never would have done that or will as a forward.

The Thrashers need him to be firing those bombs from the blue line. His shot is just as hard as Chara’s and I think he knows it’s harder. Now they just need a few more to go in or guys in front to tip them in or put home the rebounds. Great acquisition and signing by the Thrashers. The guy wants to be here and will make a difference unlike some in the past.

Alan R.

April 15th, 2011
3:15 pm

Or maybe, instead of Byfuglien being magically able to score “another 10. Maybe even 15 or 20″ goals, or instead of injuries, other things were on their minds? Thorburn and Ladd both admitted to being affected by the prospects of playing in another city next year. I’m certain other players were affected adversely as well.

The past two seasons, we’ve been affected by locker room “shockwaves” after playing well for the first couple months. Until we get this stuff straightened out, nothing else matters.

You Can Have Them

April 15th, 2011
3:34 pm

I doubt we win the Cup next year but Burmi sure looks good out there when he is skating around.

East Point Bob

April 15th, 2011
8:01 pm

I just hope Buff does not mail it in, like the final 20 games or so, next season, plus hits more people.

Big Deuce

April 15th, 2011
8:04 pm

“The guy is an offensive defenceman who is changing the way the game is played” Cornbread——-

Ahh, Buff isn’t changing the game, offensive d men have been around for a while, not sure where youre going with that

Yuvno Ballzerdik

April 16th, 2011
9:01 am

I hope Buff is more physical next season also, he is too big and too strong to not get involved physically, likewise for Thor, I got tired of his arm-bar instead of dropping the mitts and sending a message, especially since those several games in a row when Boults was injured but playing really sparked the team, Thor is capable of playing that style and will help the team thrive if he does so.

Thor is trying to expand his role but hopefully he doesn’t forget the physical play that got him to the NHL…I thought he was at his best durng those games when he added those intagibles to the lineup…and having Mark Stuart helps, he battles hard every night win or lose…then again with Rammer as the coach, you never know if the whisperer will frown upon it or not. Telling Burmy to not play his gritty, agitating style was a mistake..even though Burmy obviously didn’t listen. That little Russian plays hard and is fearless, we need more players like him and less Hainsey’s and Oduya’s who avoid contact at all costs, and who can been seen standing around more times than not. One of these two needs to go and the sooner the better, we need scoring, trade one of these two, their effort is just not there every night like it should be considering their salaries.

Someone tell Anthony Stewart he can occasionally bang into someone also..because if the Thrashers had depth, Stewy would have been sent down in a heartbeat for quitting as often as he did in games during the second half. A. Stewart is the best example of a roster player only we’d have, other teams would have sent down or replaced him when it was obvious he hit a wall, he isn’t a proven vet you give the benefit of the doubt to, he is a player who is a career minor leaguer for a reason. We have to shed these fringe players, Stapleton, Maxwell and Schremp aren’t anything special, if all three are in the lineup next season, I don’t see any improvement, those players could be replaced easily. Kane must score more, he has a lot of pressure on him now.

I miss Eager, he sparked the Sharks the other night with a wild fight, we are a non-playoff team who quite often delivers a big steamy turd that resembles a typical lackluster effort at center ice, it needs to be addressed, lets get physical, look at the playoff games, we’d be killed by all of those teams, even the Rags. If Rammer can’t get them to play 60 mins, get someone who can. If the players refuse to play 60 minutes, find players that will. Duds did a great job of weeding out some of players with effort issues, most notanly – Peverley, but we still have some lingering issues that needs to be fixed.

Barb

April 16th, 2011
9:33 am

Chris, can you tell the person in charge of updating NHL results in the printed AJC that the Maple Leafs are not in the playoffs.

Joe McGrath

April 16th, 2011
2:52 pm

@Cornbread, I respect you, but Buff isn’t changing the game. Personally, I didn’t care if he played D. But in February I was wondering why he didn’t go to Rammer and say “coach, we need a spark up front, let me move up and lets try to win a game or two and get out of this funk.” Just watching highlights of him in Chicago made me realize how valuable it is to have a big body up front willing to tangle with the D and G and cash in on deflections and rebounds.

alex

April 17th, 2011
1:34 pm

it only make sense talking about thrashers if they going to be sold to decent owner who committed to keep the team here. i don’t care Phoenix move to Winnipeg but asg clowns not able to sell the team, it only prolonged ours 11 years misery and distress. it’s exist just one good news for thrashers – announcements of sale from asg. current status not sustainable.

MrBill

April 17th, 2011
8:25 pm

There is nothing in Winnipeg free press about a possible sale of the Coyotes, True North is going to have a ticket drive to see what the interest level is but its a trial test to see if fans will buy three years of season tickets and based on the results they will make a decision if they will move forward or not. If they get poor results than there will be no deal. Winnipeg didn’t support the Jets thats why they moved. Just Google Winnipeg free press to see the story and click on NHL tickets. I will say this if the Thrashers are back next season and they proably will be then its up to the fans if they are to stay or not so Atlanta you better support your team good or bad. Lack of Support and they will be gone.