Byfuglien says he's good to go
Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency
|Winnipeg Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien fires a shot on net during practice in Winnipeg on September 24, 2011. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI AGENCY)
Dustin Byfuglien is feeling fine, thank you very much.
On Saturday, the Winnipeg Jets defenceman was back on the ice with his teammates for a 45-minute session and made it perfectly clear that he was close to 100% and merely resting a minor ailment the past few days.
There are no long-term issues and no doubt he would be ready to go for the Jets season opener against the Montreal Canadiens next Sunday at MTS Centre.
“Just taking care of the body before it all gets going — I was just a little sore and I’d rather take (time off) now than during the season,” said Byfuglien, who appeared in only two preseason games with the Jets this fall. “It’s time to go back to work, get back into our systems, get the team coming together as much as possible and getting ready for the year. It’s not rocket science. It’s going out there and committing to do it, being on the same page and doing it.”
Jets head coach Claude Noel was glad to see Byfuglien back on the ice.
“Dustin is a popular guy in the room with his teammates, plays with a lot of heart and it’s nice to see him out there skating,” said Noel.
On Saturday, forwards Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler were given a maintenance day, while forwards Eric Fehr, Aaron Gagnon, Kenndal McArdle and Ben Maxwell missed the workout because of injury.
STAPLETON WAIVED: Although the Jets weren’t ready to announce any of their roster moves on Saturday, word snuck out that forward Tim Stapleton had been placed on waivers.
If he clears, it’s possible the skilled centre could be sent to St. John’s of the American Hockey League.
Stapleton, a 29-year-old who is on a one-way contract that pays $525,000, had five goals and seven points in 45 games with the Thrashers last season.
SHOOTOUT FUN: The Jets wrapped up Saturday’s 45-minute workout with a shootout competition, which was merely a coincidence after dropping Friday’s 3-2 decision to the Nashville Predators in the shootout.
After scoring, players were encouraged to discard their helmets, gloves and sticks on the ice.
The last player not left to score — which ended up being defenceman Mark Stuart — had to pick up all of the articles left on the ice.
For those who are curious, the Thrashers were tied for ninth in the NHL last season in shootout wins, posting a record of 5-7 while scoring 12 goals and giving up 13.
“We’ve got some pretty good shooters down the line and some hidden secrets, we’ve got some gems back there,” said Byfuglien. “This was about getting us in the feel of it.”