Jets' Byfuglien wants a playoff run
He had one in 2010 with Chicago, now he hopes for one with the Jets
KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
|Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward makes a save on Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (C) as Patrick Dwyer defends during the second period of their NHL hockey game in Winnipeg March 18, 2012. (REUTERS)
ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. — Dustin Byfuglien has been to the top of the mountain and wants to make it back to the summit.
After missing the playoffs the past two seasons in Winnipeg and Atlanta, Byfuglien would love to go on another run like he had in 2010 when the Chicago Blackhawks captured the Stanley Cup.
During an in-depth interview on Thursday afternoon at St. Louis Rec Center, Byfuglien took a stroll down memory lane.
“It was great, an interesting ride, that’s for sure,” said Byfuglien. “It’s a grind. You’re sitting in June and you’re still playing. It was a long time, but once you get there and you hoist (the Stanley Cup), it’s something that you’ll always remember every part of it. The smiles on everyone’s faces, how excited everyone is. It’s something special and not everyone gets to do it.
“You take pride in winning it.”
There’s nothing quite like hoisting the famous chalice for the first time.
“I don’t even remember who handed me the cup, it was more or less, just don’t trip. Take your lap,” said Byfuglien. “It felt good to grab it, put it up and down a couple times and give it a little kiss.”
Byfuglien, 27, played a huge role in the Hawks success, scoring 11 goals and adding five assists in 22 post-season games.
Some of his personal highlights include an overtime winner against the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of the Western Conference final and his first playoff hat trick in Game 3 of the second-round series with the Vancouver Canucks.
“After that I just kind of went on a little spurt where I was getting a goal almost every game,” said Byfuglien.
The initial championship celebration was delayed a bit though, since Blackhawks sniper Patrick Kane was one of the only guys in the building that realized his sharp-angle shot in overtime of Game 6 against the Philadlephia Flyers had crossed the goal-line to clinch the series.
Byfuglien was on the bench and admits he didn’t really know what to do.
“From that angle, nobody really saw it coming. I just kind of sat there,” said Byfuglien. “A few guys took off, a few sat, a few stood. I was thinking, ‘what should we do here? Do we keep ourselves calm? Then everyone (else) took off, so I said screw it, let’s go celebrate.’”
Byfuglien and Jets captain Andrew Ladd didn’t get a chance to defend the crown as they were dealt to the Thrashers shortly after winning the Cup as the Blackhawks had to get under the salary cap.
“It’s a business,” said Byfuglien. “You have to move on. You miss your friends and you miss the people back there, but it’s a job and you’ve got to go to work. It doesn’t matter where it is.”
Now that he’s getting set for his second season with the Jets, Byfuglien is pushing to get back into the post-season party.
“Even if we are a bottom-seed team, you just never know what can happen — just look at L.A.,” said Byfuglien of the 2012 Stanley Cup champions, who entered the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. “Most of our guys don’t have playoff experience. It’s a whole different game. It’s about who is ready to work and who is going to work every night. That’s what it comes down to.
“The level and the pace is so much higher than a regular-season game. It just makes the game that much better.”