Byfuglien Changes Positions, Merits Norris Talk

Byfuglien Changes Positions, Merits Norris Talk

Kris Versteeg was recalling a game about four years ago when he and Dustin Byfuglien were toiling for the Norfolk Admirals, the Chicago Blackhawks' affiliate in the American Hockey League at the time.

Byfuglien was bouncing up and down between Blackhawks and the Admirals and with the way the schedule worked out, Byfuglien ended up playing his fifth game in five days back with Norfolk.

"Still he had three breakaways shorthanded as a (defenseman)," said Versteeg, now in Toronto. "It was a display that I don't know if I will ever see again in pro hockey.

"But you know he has it. He has what it takes to do it."

The rest of the NHL is learning that same lesson this season as Byfuglien has moved from forward, the position that made him famous during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, back to defense, the position he has traditionally played.

The transformation began with a June trade -- just days after Byfuglien celebrated winning the Stanley Cup -- in which Chicago, in a move to get under the League's salary cap, sent Byfuglien and two other players to Atlanta.

There, new coach Craig Ramsay defied logic and moved Byfuglien from the power forward role he was making his own back to the blue line. It is a gamble that has paid huge dividends.

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