Atlanta Thrashers Re-Sign Dustin Byfuglien To A Multi-Year Contract Extension

The Atlanta Thrashers re-sign assistant captain and leading goal scorer Dustin Byfuglien to a contract extension, details forthcoming.

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What Does Re-Signing Dustin Byfuglien Mean For The Future Of The Atlanta Thrashers?

The Thrashers did more than sign Dustin Byfuglien, one of their best players, to a lengthy contract extension today. The team got a huge statement of confidence from that player, and the ownership group was willing to fork over the cash to make this possible.

Everyone knows of the ownership issues surrounding this team, and the assumption that they’re not willing to shell out big money to retain talent. However, all signs point to the fact that they were willing to give Hossa a decent amount of money and that they were throwing around $8 million at Brian Campbell (currently of the Chicago Blackhawks and part of the reason for this past off-season’s cap-hell). Of course, they offered to make Ilya Kovalchuk the top paid player in the league last season, and were rebuffed.

The ownership group, while cheap, also realizes that you have to have at least one marquee player to get attention and to keep the losses down. The marquee players, though, just haven’t seemed to have trusted the ownership group to back the team up. Chances are good that the players haven’t wanted to stay because of the constant rumor mill swilling around the Thrashers’ future in Atlanta, and that is very understandable. I’d hate to sign with a team that I thought was going to be in one city, and then wake up the next day and have to play for another city – with totally disparate climates, to boot.

To have a player like Dustin Byfuglien re-sign here shows that maybe the ownership issue is diminished in the eyes of a player when you have a quality core, young talent, and a coaching staff and general manager who run the team like a hockey club, not like a country club. This is a huge vote of confidence in the future of the franchise, and one that the ownership group obviously greenlighted. Did they do so to make their on-ice product more marketable? Of course. It wasn’t done out of belief in the franchise winning the Cup; they know that putting a good team on ice is enough to get more butts in the seats.

Will Thrasher fans complain about it? Nope. For once, Atlanta Spirit gets a pass for a good decision, and one of the game’s rising stars gives the Thrashers franchise his stamp of approval. I think this works out in the end.

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Atlanta Thrashers Release Press Release Regarding The Dustin Byfuglien Extension

From AtlantaThrashers.com:

The Atlanta Thrashers have signed defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to a multiple-year contract extension, according to General Manager Rick Dudley.

“Dustin has emerged into an elite player this season and been invaluable as a leader both on and off the ice," said Dudley. "It was a priority to sign him and we’re looking forward to witnessing his All-Star caliber play for many years to come.”

Byfuglien, 25, leads the team and ranks fifth in the NHL among defenseman in scoring with 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) this season while leading all league defenseman in goals. He has tallied six game-winning goals, one shy of the NHL record for a defenseman in a single season and tied the Thrashers single-game scoring record for a defensemen with four points (one goal, three assists) against Boston on Nov. 28. Byfuglien was named the NHL’s second star of the week (period ending Nov. 28) and the league’s third star for the month of November. For his efforts this season, he was also named an NHL All-Star.

What a difference a year makes. Just a season ago, the Thrashers’ then general-manager Don Waddell had to send out this missive regarding Ilya Kovalchuk not thinking the team was worth his long-term plans. The Thrashers’ current ability to retain top-tier talent is something that sends a decisive message to the hockey world about how the players are feeling about this franchise.

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