Jeremy Roenick Is Not a Fan of Dustin Byfuglien's Move to Defense
Add those guys in with a young core that includes talented youngsters like Bryan Little, Tobias Enstrom, Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian, and they might actually be onto something.
One of the more interesting -- and as it turns out, controversial -- moves made by the team this summer involved the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Byfuglien, and his position switch that will take him from forward to the blue line. One person that's not a fan of that move? Former NHL superstar Jeremy Roenick, who went absolutely biblical in his criticism of the move during his weekly radio show.
The comments, via Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
"That might be the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life. Dustin Byfuglien as a defenseman. I would love to play against Dustin Byfuglien as a defenseman. I would turn him inside out, left, right and center every single time. This kid, he made his living in front of the net scoring goals during the playoffs for the Chicago Blackhawks. Why on earth would you put him back as a defenseman? This kid is strong, he's powerful, he's a great skater. Put him in front of the net as a forward. That's where you want him to do all his damage. Playing him as a defenseman? Maybe that's why the Thrashers are 0-3 in preseason. Maybe that's why nobody comes to watch their games. It's crazy. What are they thinking? They already have a GM that doesn't know the game whatsoever. But, hey, that's just my opinion. Like me or hate me if you don't [agree]. I'm not a big fan of Atlanta for a lot of reasons but the fact that they're going to play Dustin Byfuglien [as a defenseman], my goodness gracious."
Well then. Roenick touched on just about everybody in that rant, including general manager Rick Dudley (the GM "that doesn't know the game whatsoever") and fans ("maybe that's why nobody comes to watch their games.")
Back in August, our Chris Botta spoke with Dudley about a number of topics, including the potential position switch. Here's what Dudley had to say at the time:
"If you play Buff up front, you have one of the best power forwards in the league. But in my view -- and I understand maybe not everyone shares it -- if we play him on one of our top 'D' pairs, he can also be one of the most dominating defensemen around. You saw how he played when the Blackhawks needed him on defense last season. Dustin's only 25 years old. Coming off that performance in the playoffs, he's only scratching the surface of what he is capable of."
One of the key points in there is that, yes, Byfuglien has in fact played defense before. So it's not like this is a completely off-the-wall transition. It's not like they're taking Evander Kane and making him play goalie, or something equally ridiculous. Byfuglien actually has experience on the blue line (hell, he was drafted as a defenseman). Whether or not he's better there or at forward is certainly (obviously) up for some level of debate.
I'll point out that, while I'm not entirely sold on the idea, Byfuglien hasn't exactly been a consistent force as a power forward. He's had his ups and downs, with last year's playoff run showing what he's capable of when he's at his best. He just hasn't always shown that level of domination.