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Big Buff feeling just fine

Jets' anchor D-man deflects conditioning queries

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He vowed his fitness was just fine on Wednesday.

At least for him.

And so Dustin Byfuglien is back in Winnipeg, readying for the start of a second NHL season with the Jets.

The team's anchor defenceman, based simply on his body makeup and body shape, not to mention his program-listed weight of 265 pounds, submitted himself to questions from reporters after an on-ice workout at the MTS Iceplex.

For instance, he was asked how long it would take him to get comfortable again with the team.

"A few days, I guess," he said. "It doesn't take long to get back in the groove of things."

Byfuglien, who had 53 points in 66 NHL games last season, second among defencemen, was his cagey self when matters of his weight or shape were raised

On his weight from over the summer: "I stayed right around the same."

On what his weight is: "You guys always want to know that. You'll never get it."

On his condition at the moment: "I guess it's time to go to work. It doesn't matter. I don't have a choice. You have to go. It's all right. I feel fine."

During the lockout, Byfuglien stayed at his Minnneaoplis-area home and skated regularly with a group of as many as 30 Minnesota-based players.

"We had 30-plus guys down there," Byfuglien said. "It wasn't bad to be there and go to the rink every day because you had a good group of guys to go skate with. It was a good little game. Some days it was tough to get up and go but it wasn't that bad."

A bonus of the time off was being near his family, Byfuglien said.

"It was definitely long," he said. "I guess it was good to stay home and be with the family and watch the daughter grow up a little bit more. And getting a little bit of free time to do different things."

During the summer, Byfuglien saw the resolution of his legal troubles in Minnesota over a boating incident and charges at the end of the summer of 2011.

He was convicted on only one of several charges, that for careless boating. He was fined $1,000 and received a 30-day sentence, 28 of them suspended.

What else was asked of you by the court, Byfuglien was asked.

He made it clear he would much rather talk about hockey but then said: "It was a few little community service things, that was it. Everything's done."

As far as putting a magnifying glass on the team, which missed the playoffs by eight points last season, Byfuglien said there were a few keys.

"I hope attitudes change," he said, mainly about being hard to play against. "We definitely need a little bit of a change around here. But I thought we had a pretty good group of guys. All we have to do is come together and have fun and as long as you're having fun, you should be all right."

The fun may well include playing in front of Winnipeg fans.

"The fans are going to be great," Byfuglien said. "This is probably one of the better buildings to play in. The fans don't get any better than they are here."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2013 D1

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