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Superstar Byfuglien looking forward to playing in front of Winnipeg crowd

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He’s a big dude – 6-5, 265 pounds, to be exact – but Winnipeg’s newest hockey superstar likes to keep a low profile and fly under the radar.

Good luck with that in River City, Dustin Byfuglien.

"The fans are going to be nuts up there," Byfuglien told Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com on Wednesday. "It's going to be fun to play in front of a wild crowd again that's for sure. But I'll still be able to hide. I'll be just fine."

The man known as ‘Big Buff’ to his teammates is relocating to his third hockey home in as many years. He was front and centre in the Chicago Blackhawks run to a championship before being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers just over a year ago in the deal that also sent Brent Sopel, Ben Eager and Akim Aliu to Georgia for first and second-round picks in last year’s draft along with Marty Reasoner, Joey Crabb and Jeremy Morin.

This past February Byfuglien signed a five-year, $26-million contract extension with the Thrashers, but the move to Winnipeg is of little concern to the 26-year-old defenceman -- after all, he did grow up not far from here in Roseau, Minn.

"(The move came into play during contract negotiations), but at that point the general manager and front office, they weren't in the loop either," Byfuglien told ESPN. "With Rick Dudley around I thought we had a fighting chance (to win), and hopefully he gets a chance up in Winnipeg, too."

One more thing: Byfuglien isn’t exactly the type to flash his coin around. Again, low profile, under the radar.

"I bought a little fishing boat, a 21-foot Ranger," he said. "Hey, it’s cold in Winnipeg, but there are some great lakes for fishing up there. We'll just take the 'show' north."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

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