Chicago Blackhawks: Why Trading Dustin Byfuglien Was the Right Thing to Do

Samantha Hoffmann@hawksnumbah1galCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2012

WINNIPEG, CANADA - DECEMBER 22: Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Winnipeg Jets warms up on the ice before a game against the Montreal Canadiens in NHL action at the MTS Centre on December 22, 2011 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Marianne Helm/Getty Images

Dustin Byfuglien won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 as a wing. He was traded to the now-defunct Atlanta Thrashers and is currently a defenseman for the Winnipeg Jets. Many Blackhawks fans have missed his hard-to-the-net style of play that he had as a forward, and how readily he hit.

However, Byfuglien should no longer be missed by Blackhawk fans. 

Dustin is currently reprising his old role as a defenseman for the Jets. Byfuglien has registered six goals, 18 assists and 24 points in 35 games for the Jets this season.

However, he is currently minus-eight, which is not at all a good plus/minus for a defenseman. His job is to prevent goals, and if the opponent has scored more goals than his team while he's on the ice, he is not performing adequately. 

Byfuglien has also been on injured reserve since late December but still somehow managed to earn a spot in this year's All-Star game, assuming he can play. With the plus/minus rating he has, he should not have earned a spot on this year's team, even though he is a fan favorite.

The real issue with Byfuglien was his conduct off-ice this season.

He was arrested over the summer for boating under the influence in Minnesota. Though he passed a breathalyzer, police were still suspicious and requested a urine sample, which he refused to submit to. In Minnesota, refusing a urine test is a misdemeanor, which faces a maximum fine of $3,000 and one year of jail time.

The more concerning part of this event was the fact that Dustin weighed in at approximately 40 lbs over his playing weight of 245 lbs. When he was booked, he weighed an astonishing 286 lbs!

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 09:  Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Chicago Blackhawks hoists the Stanley Cup after the Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime to win the Stanley Cup in Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Wachovia Cente
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Dustin Byfuglien managed to gain 40 lbs at a time when most players are gaining muscle, not fat. He is currently 265 lbs, meaning he is up 20 lbs from a season ago. A player is so much more sluggish when gaining weight, especially so quickly and, I assume, so unhealthily. 

After Patrick Kane's series of off-ice incidents, the Blackhawks organization does not need any more PR issues.

The biggest question surrounding Byfuglien's trade was whether or not the Hawks would be able to replace him. Last season was more of a rebuilding season for Chicago, since they traded so many of their players due to salary-cap issues.

This season, the Blackhawks have found new faith in their young players. Midseason surprises such as Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw have breathed fresh air into the team.

Let's look at Jimmy Hayes first.

Jimmy Hayes is a 6'6" 220 lb. winger. In 12 consecutive games with the Blackhawks this season, Hayes has registered four goals, three assists and seven points and has 19 shots on goal. He also currently has 25 hits in 12 games. 

Hayes is constantly found in front of the net, using his huge frame to screen goaltenders. He also uses his speed, which is quick for someone of his size, and has great stick-handling skills.

Andrew Shaw is a young player that is taking Chicago by storm. He has lit the lamp five times in 10 games and has one assist for a total of six points. In those 10 games, Shaw also has 24 shots on goal. He has 24 hits, one less than Hayes.

Shaw is also constantly found in front of the net. If you watch a Hawks goal replay, Shaw is either the one scoring the goal, or he is right behind the player who scored, ready to catch the rebound. Shaw is quick and hits a lot, especially for his 5'10" 180 lb. stature. He will stand up for himself if picked on.

Shaw and Hayes have provided a constant stream of points and aggression for Chicago since being called up from Rockford. It is hard to believe that one year ago, the former was playing in the OHL, undrafted, and the latter was a star at Boston College.

With these two on the roster, many Blackhawks fans have been left wondering, "Byfuglien who?"