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Jeremy Roenick lambastes Thrashers for moving Dustin Byfuglien to defense

Jeremy Roenick

Jeremy Roenick tears up as he announces his retirement from the NHL in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009. In the background is San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson. Roenick leaves the game as one of four American who scored 500 or more goals. He scored 513 overall to rank 36th. (AP Photo/Russel A. Daniels)


To 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.