Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Byfuglien loath to fuel old rivalry with Canucks

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DON'T expect Dustin Byfuglien to do or say anything to rekindle an old rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks.

Byfuglien made one of his infrequent appearances with the local media at the MTS Iceplex on Wednesday, just prior to the team's departure to the left coast. And while Byfuglien was a key factor in the Chicago Blackhawks' run to a championship two years ago -- a stretch that included a playoff series win over the Canucks in which he was a dominant force -- he didn't seem the least bit interested in revisiting that topic.

That's probably wise, especially knowing the Canucks are a bit of a wounded animal right now after losing two straight at home.

"Vancouver's always a fun spot to go and it's always a sold-out building," Byfuglien said. "Any time you get to play against the Canucks, it's a fun thing because you know it's going to be a good game."

HONESTY THE BEST POLICY: Here's Ondrej Pavelec, who is constantly insisting the "next game is the biggest game" when asked if the playoff carrot isn't also serving as a motivator:

"I'm focused for (tonight) and then we go from there. But I would lie if I said it's just about that game. Of course, you can see on TV what's going on around the league. There are a lot of teams playing for something. In the last four years we didn't make the playoffs. It's no fun. That's why this is so much fun. Last year at this time we were out of it already.

"It's great to be in the race and it's going to be a battle until the end of the year. It would be great to make it, especially in the first year. I can't imagine what it would be like in the MTS Centre if we made the playoffs."

HEADING HOME: It will be like old home week for a few of the Jets heading to Vancouver. In addition to ex-Blackhawk Dustin Byfuglien, there is ex-Canuck Tanner Glass and two B.C. products in Andrew Ladd (Maple Ridge) and Evander Kane (Vancouver). Kane was also to be honoured by his junior club, the Vancouver Giants, Wednesday night.

"A lot of friends and family will be in the crowd and it's always fun to play in Vancouver," Kane said. "I've only played there once before and it was a great time. It's unfortunate we don't get to go back there more or as often as some other teams do."

Added Ladd, who expects to have 15-20 friends and family in the crowd: "It's always fun to go home and play in front of your family and friends. Obviously we've had some good times there and had some history against that team. It'll be fun for me and Buff, it always is to play Vancouver.

"It used to be a lot more expensive when we played there twice a year. It's the first time in two years, so I'll take care of it (the tickets)."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 8, 2012 C3

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