VANCOUVER — Conspiracy theorists fishing for something on Dustin Byfuglien got no help from Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice Wednesday afternoon.
Byfuglien and some of his teammates spent part of Tuesday — an off day for the NHL club — hauling in some monster sturgeon on the Fraser River.
The defenceman didn’t play in Edmonton on Monday because of a lower-body injury and, according to Maurice, won’t join his teammates when they play the Canucks tonight.
Many in the Twitter world are taking issue with the club’s most recognizable star — always a catalyst for consternation among Jets fans — wearing chest waders and posing with what appears in photos to be about a more-than-two-metre-long, prehistoric-looking sturgeon.
They say it’s evidence Byfuglien was parked in the press box due to his performance in Winnipeg’s first two defeats rather than his health.
Some energy would have been exerted by big Buff — an avid outdoorsman — battling that bad boy (or girl).
But Maurice said he had no problem with Byfuglien’s choice of day-off activity.
"No, he did what he needed to do (treatment). (It’s) a soft-tissue issue," he said. "Just a little bit jealous, but no issue at all."
He said Byfuglien will participate in the team’s morning skate, but will be sidelined for at least one more contest.
"That’ll be the first time he’s been on the ice in a few days and we’ll just be real cautious with it going forward. It’s day-to-day," Maurice said.
Jets centre Matt Hendricks, who has yet to play this season and is on the injured-reserved list, was also a member of the fishing party.
Hendricks skated alone Wednesday at Father Bauer Arena on the University of British Columbia campus, prior to the team’s practice. There’s no timeline on his return.
Winnipeg will ice the same lineup that registered an impressive 5-2 victory over the Oilers. That means Tucker Poolman will play NHL game No. 2, paired again with Toby Enstrom, while goalie Connor Hellebuyck returns to the crease.
Hellebuyck, sensational in Edmonton, stopping 37 shots including 20 in the opening period, said he’s grateful for a second-straight start, but is keeping a level head.
"I know how much work is ahead of me. I’m going to enjoy it, but I have a lot to think about moving forward," he said. "For me, a lot of what’s happening comes down to confidence. If you are confident in yourself, your high games are like, ‘whatever, that’s what I play like’ and the bad games you know you’re better. So, the confidence is going to be key."
The club’s top line of centre Mark Scheiflele, Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers was a force, combining for 10 points — highlighted by Ehlers’ natural hat trick.
Maurice said all his players earned a day away from the rink.
"Just be together," he said. "We get four mandatory days off a month and I like it when they’re on the road because they all get to spend some time together. It’s great early in the season, outstanding," he said.
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).
Updated on Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 10:22 AM CDT: Corrects typo