December 10, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
TAMPA, Fla. -- There are two Dustin Byfugliens. The one who former teammmates seek out after games and greet with bear hugs. Then there is the man who prefers his privacy where the media is concerned and isn't afraid to defend it.
Byfuglien speaks when Byfuglien wants to speak. Good luck trying to convince him to do otherwise.
Byfuglien broke his silence on Thursday after the Jets' morning skate and, as is the 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.
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.
"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, Fla., on Tuesday in an attempt to skirt a storm that was hammering 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 his own business class-style seat on the Jets' private charter. "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 an in 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."
Byfuglien had an ordinary game on Tuesday according to his coach, Claude Noel.
"I thought he was fine," said Noel. "It wasn't his best game but he wasn't an issue. I thought he should play and he wanted to play. It was good for him."
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 8, 2013 C2