Dustin Byfuglien is headed to the nation’s capital.
The Winnipeg Jets defenceman has earned a spot in the 2012 All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 29 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, the club announced Thursday morning.
The 26-year-old Minnesotan will be making his second straight appearance in the game, but his first as a Jet, after suiting up last winter as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers. Byfuglien leads Jets’ defencemen in points with 24 (six goals, 18 assists) in 35 games this season and at the close of fan votes for the game, led all Winnipeg players with 149,405 votes.
Byfuglien has missed the last seven games with a ‘lower-body injury’ and while head coach Claude Noel said his recovery has ‘plateaued’ the club hopes to have him back in the lineup soon.
"He’s a very worthy choice," said Noel. "He’s a good player. He started off playing different ways... I don’t know if that was necessary his fault. There was certainly some adjustment. I thought his first 8-10 games was all over the place and we had to try to stabilize his game. He’s a skilled player that, after his first 8-10 games, has really played well for us. He’s intelligent as a player, he shoots the puck a lot, but he’s clever and he can separate players off the puck.
"He’s continued to grow. We were hoping to continue the process, but we got delayed a bit (with the injury)."
The Jets did not make Byfuglien available to the media on Thursday, saying he would speak about the honour Friday morning.