It’s been a while since Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd and assistant captain Dustin Byfuglien have been in Chicago. In fact, the last time they were around, they were carrying that big silver chalice around the city during the Blackhawks own version of the Ultimate Pub Crawl. Since then, the Blackhawks liquidated half their Cup winning team to slide under the salary cap—leading to new teams and new roles for Ladd and Byfuglien.
Since the Atlanta Thrashers didn’t play in Chicago last season, this is the first time Ladd and Byfuglien will appear on United Center ice since winning it all in 2010. Andrew Ladd talked to NHL.com about returning to Chicago—this time as the enemy:
“It’s a little weird, but it’s definitely fun to be back and see a lot of familiar faces and people I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s going to be a fun night for us. A few of us went out for dinner (Wednesday) night, so it was fun to see those knuckleheads and catch up a little bit and see what they’ve been up to.”
Plenty has happened since the pair helped the Hawks win their first Cup in 49 years. Ladd lead his new team with 29 goals and 59 points last season. Right behind him, Byfuglien had 20 goals and 53 points from the blueline. The two were brought in by the Atlanta organization to help bring more talent – and a winning attitude – to the team. They showed the talent part when they were the two leading scorers last season. The next challenge will be for the duo to help the Jets pull together the young talent on roster and make it translate into a playoff spot.
After all, they’ve been part of the same process in Chicago.
Just because they have some good memories from their time in the Windy City, don’t expect Byfuglien and Ladd to take it easy on their former teammates. Byfuglien had a message for the current Blackhawks:
“I’m not afraid to run anybody and knock these guys around a little bit.”
Sounds like it should be a good time.