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Jeremy Roenick lambastes Thrashers for moving Dustin Byfuglien to defense

Sep 29, 2010, 5:00 PM EDT

roenick.jpgTo call Jeremy Roenick a “bombastic” would be correct. He’s got opinions and he’ll share them with whoever asks him for them. When Roenick took to the airwaves on his XM satellite radio show to discuss what he thought about the Atlanta Thrashers playing Dustin Byfuglien at defense, you could say that the results were as you’d expect them to be. Brash, controversial, and even tinged with bitterness towards the past.

“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 [Rick Dudley] 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.”

There’s so many things to try and handle here. First of all, why isn’t Roenick a big fan of Atlanta? Perhaps he had a bad time at the World of Coca-Cola once. (Edit: As it turns out, you fans know your Roenick/Atlanta history better than I do. Roenick is apparently still angry about then Atlanta GM Don Waddell leaving him off of the 2006 Olympic team. Coincidentally, Roenick still thinks that Waddell is the GM of the Thrashers. We’ve all learned a lesson here I think.)

Secondly, Roenick missed out on Byfuglien’s early career in the minor leagues coming up with the Blackhawks because he spent all of that time as a defenseman. Hell, Byfuglien even played some defense for the Blackhawks this past season in the playoffs.

His point about wanting to leave Byfuglien up front as a power forward is one that we tend to agree with. Problem there is the numbers don’t necessarily back it up. He was great in the playoffs, but he’s a 15 goal scorer as a forward which means he’s not maximizing his output there during the year. Craig Ramsay believes he can be a 15-goal guy from the blue line, which if that happens, makes him a more valuable commodity provided he’s not a defensive liability.

For Roenick, however, until he becomes a team general manager or a coach, lashing out like this is going to come off as crazy ramblings from a media darling. It’s not that his point was wrong, Byfuglien might indeed end up back at forward in the future as it is and prove JR to be right, but delivering it in such an impassioned and exasperated way is only going to get people like us to talk about him and not his message.

Touché, Roenick. Touché.

  1. NYRFTW - Sep 29, 2010 at 6:52 PM

    Hey this is America and Roenick is American, so he can say whatever the hell he wants. If someone doesn’t like it they can leave the country ASAP! He’s speaking his mind, which is his right being American1 What’s the problem. I think more people should be as honest as him. Thinking Byfuglien could score 15 as a D almost made me choke. He will score more like 7 if that. He won’t be back there long and JR would deke the hell out of him if he was playing against him in his prime, so he can say that. You saying “but delivering it in such an impassioned and exasperated way is only going to get people like us to talk about him and not his message” is pretty retarded considering it’s the AMERICAN way. I would think you would be used to it by now! I think hockey needs more people like him that can speak their mind without caring what other people think like Curt Schilling I hate him, but respect him for always speaking his mind like any AMERICAN has the right to do!

  2. HockeyFanInTheSun - Sep 29, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    I agree that Byfuglien should be a forward. However, the best thing about having him on a team is that he can play both positions. The question is, however, does a sun belt team who loses money want a player who can bring new fans to the game, skating along the blueline or raising havoc in front of the net. I’ve watched him since he was in Chicago and money and putting fans in the seats aside, he’s coming into his own as an offensive player, skillset-wise, emotinally and physically. Leave him there. You had all off season to sign defensemen and you had the money to do so. Let the kid play where he belongs Dudley (etal.) unless some of the old school Wirtz selfishness has rubbed off on you. Let ’em get in there and battle with the best, in front of the net. Ask Vancouver and San Jose why the Hawks beat them into submission and why their players were so frustrated (especially the goalies). You want to lose him mentally…keep him at defense. My opinion only.

  3. Patrick - Sep 29, 2010 at 7:25 PM

    Works for me …I like when they have him listed as a defenseman/forward for my fantasy team…adds some flexability to that roster spot…GoRedwings!

  4. LarmerFan28 - Oct 1, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    Hey NYRFTW, take a pill. The train for the next Tea Party rally departs in 15 minutes, you might not want to miss it. Contrary to popular AMERICAN belief, American IS NOT the only country where one can speak freely. And indeed Canada happens to a be a free country where lots of folks, particularly in respect to Hockey, speak quite freely and sometimes controversially. The point of the article wasn’t to lambaste Roenick’s right to free speech, rather to indicate that sometime the message is lost in the delivery. Sometimes we end up discussing the orator’s method rather than his/her intended information. No need to sound the communist alarm bells. Just a journalist invoking his AMERICAN right to speak freely. Sheesh!

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