It’s getting harder and harder to find positives in the aftermath of Team USA’s poor performance at the World Cup of Hockey.
On Monday, Winnipeg d-man Dustin Byfuglien weighed in on his time at the tourney, telling Sportsnet it wasn’t much fun.
“The experience and everything that went on, it is what it is,” Byfuglien said. “You know, I didn’t enjoy it.”
That revelation is hardly a surprise. Head coach John Tortorella made Byfuglien a healthy scratch for the tournament opener against Europe — a dismal 3-0 loss — then played Big Buff just 10:50 in a 4-2 defeat to Canada.
Byfuglien did get a healthy chunk of ice time in America’s final game — 21:18 in a loss to the Czechs — but by that point, the damage was done.
It was clear early on the Byfuglien experiment had its problems.
Named to the U.S. national team for the first time in his career, he was platooned between forward and defense in the exhibition games leading up to the tournament, even though he’d previously stated he much prefers playing defense.
“It’s definitely not my favorite spot,” Byfuglien said after playing up front in a pre-tourney win over Finland. “It’s just something they wanted to try and that was it.”
Not long after the Finland game, Big Buff was out of the lineup. And Tortorella’s reasoning behind the move wasn’t very clear.
“As we went through our lineup and the situations that we may get involved with — power play, penalty killing and all that — we felt this was our lineup to start the tournament,” he explained.
The lack of explanation only further confused the issue. Parking Byfuglien was a bizarre decision to begin with, especially in light of America’s offensive woes at the tournament — a versatile weapon on the power play, Byfuglien was the highest-scoring U.S. defenseman in the NHL last season.
In the end, this situation only underscores the problems that plagued Team USA throughout the tourney. Roster and lineup decisions constantly came under scrutiny and, in the end, nobody had anything positive to say about the end result.
But at least there was one good memory…