TAMPA -- Dustin Byfuglien broke his silence on Thursday after the Jets' morning skate and, in keeping with the private nature of the man, had little to say about his family matters.
Byfuglien did not travel to south Florida with the Jets on Sunday and arrived just over an hour prior to the team’s 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
The Jets (10-11-1) meet the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight (6:30 p.m., TSNJets, TSN 1290 and Byfuglien spoke with the media following the Jets morning skate.
Byfuglien travelled to Roseau, Minn. to attend his grandfather’s funeral. Byfuglien is known around the Jets organization for having a big sense of humour and a bigger heart. But he’s private when it comes to talking with the media and is disciplined in his approach. He speaks on his schedule and not that of anyone else.
"I had a thing with the family and I don’t want to talk about it but I had to go home for a bit," said Byfuglien.
The Jets arranged for Byfuglien to fly from Winnipeg to Toronto and then Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday in an attempt to skirt a storm that hammered the U.S. midwest.
"I was in economy. Just like you guys. It was chaos and a long day. It was different. I put the headphones on and went to sleep," chuckled Byfuglien, who normally has a business-class style seat on the Jets private plane.
"It was different. You don’t have as much time to think and prepare especially when you haven’t been around. I had some things to get done to be ready."
Arriving just prior to game time and in a different emotional headspace didn’t prevent Byfuglien from playing.
"Did I think about not playing? No not really. It was something I thought I needed to do to clear the head," he said. "At first, I didn’t know what to think or how I was going to react. But when it was time to go it was just react and don’t think. It was hockey. It was all business."
Winnipeg will start Al Montoya (2-0-0) in goal and Tampa Bay will counter with Anders Lindback (8-5-1).