Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Jets Coach Plans to Leave Dustin Byfuglien as a Forward for Now

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Jets Coach Plans to Leave Dustin Byfuglien as a Forward for Now

Article excerpt

New Jets coach says Buff to remain at forward

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WINNIPEG - The experiment is only a couple of games old, but new Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice says he's leaving Dustin Byfuglien at forward for now.

"I'm going to leave him there until I . . . see something that I need to change," he said Tuesday. "That may be next week, that may be next month, that may be never. But I'm not making a decision until I need to."

Maurice was impressed with how Byfuglien played in Winnipeg's 5-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night.

"I think I have a pretty good handle on what he's capable of doing and I think you saw that," the coach said after a short but intense practice.

Byfuglien had two assists versus Phoenix and remains the third highest-scoring defenceman in the league with 37 points. He still jumps back in on the point on power plays although at even strength he plays forward.

"Sometimes it's a little tough to stay on the point but it's good I get out there a little more," Byfuglien says.

"I'm more comfortable on D so it's a lot easier to go back there and just feel comfortable and know that I'm doing a lot better."

Although he played forward with the Chicago Blackhawks, Byfuglien says he still doesn't feel all that comfortable in the role with the Jets.

"Definitely not. It will take a few weeks for that one."

Maurice was pleased overall with the energy level the team showed Tuesday and says there may be too much focus on Byfuglien, in particular if he makes a mistake when many other players in a similar position go unnoticed.

"We are a far better hockey team with Dustin Byfuglien at forward or at D playing close to his abilities," Maurice said. "That's my goal. . . At the end of the day, if I've got a guy I feel can play at the back end and up front, then that's (a) best-case scenario."

Maurice replaced Claude Noel, fired on the weekend as the Jets floundered and lost five in a row. …

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