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Media Day at the NHL All-Star Weekend

by Kalen Qually / Winnipeg Jets
Before the red carpet, the hardest shot competition, or the All-Star MVP’s new car is presented, every player invited to the NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus, OH, spent time on Friday fielding questions from the media and sitting down with the NHL’s rights holders at Nationwide Arena.

Dustin Byfuglien arrived at Nationwide Arena by bus with the rest of the NHL All-Stars at 11:30 am ET, at which time he changed into some NHL All-Star gear and began the gauntlet of interviews with NHL partners Rogers Sportsnet, TVA Sports and NHL Network. Many of the questions he faced were about his reintroduction to the defence position, how the Jets have evolved into a playoff contender, and about his affinity for ice fishing.

While taking part in the game of hurry-up-and-wait, players took advantage of the opportunity to mingle since many only see each other during an NHL game. Without the pretense of on-ice competition, Byfuglien and his NHL counterparts showed their personalities as they joked about the upcoming skills competition and chance to show one another up. As a former Blackhawk, Byfuglien had the most time for former teammates from Chicago, including a lengthy catch-up session with defenceman Brent Seabrook.

While Byfuglien and select other players filed through the rights holders’ stations, the rest of the NHL All-Stars took turns at media podiums in the atrium at Nationwide Arena. Countless media outlets from around the NHL were given access to the league’s best players. Winnipeg’s media contingent making the rounds included Ed Tait from the Winnipeg Free Press and the Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe.

Byfuglien garnered plenty of attention when he made his way to the podium around 12:30 pm ET. Media members that rarely get a chance to talk to the big defenceman wanted to hear more about his adjustment back to the position, while also hearing his opinion on the Jets emergence in the Western Conference. After 10-15 minutes of introspection, Byfuglien was asked about his former teammates also invited to the All-Star Weekend. In Byfuglien’s opinion, Patrick Kane has pretty good speed but should work on his hands.

As Byfuglien’s media availability ended for the day, Blue Jackets’ broadcaster Bob McElligott approached the big man asking whether he’d jeopardized his chance to be picked first overall by Team Foligno in the Fantasy Draft by roughing up the All-Star Captain on Wednesday in Winnipeg. That night, Foligno was on the receiving end of a few Byfuglien bodychecks as the Jets beat the Blue Jackets by a 4-0 score.

Byfuglien returned to his hotel to rest up before tonight’s All-Star Fantasy Draft taking place at 8 pm ET. But before he finds out whether Foligno took exception to his rough play last week, Byfuglien will walk the red carpet at Nationwide Arena with his wife by his side at 6:45 pm ET.

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