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Dustin Byfuglien enjoys big crowds Jets have drawn in Winnipeg

Hawks center Jonathan Toews is defended by Jets defenseman DustByfuglien first period as Chicago Blackhawks host Winnipeg Jets Thursday October

Hawks center Jonathan Toews is defended by Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien in the first period as the Chicago Blackhawks host the Winnipeg Jets Thursday October 13, 2011 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 16, 2011 3:43PM

Back in the United Center for the first time since he was a member of the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup champions, Dustin Byfuglien couldn’t resist a look at the banner he helped put in the building’s ­rafters.

“Went up there and took a peek,” Byfuglien said. “Still pretty white up there. Looks good.”

Byfuglien, now an alternate captain with the Winnipeg Jets, played Thursday in his first game in Chicago since he had two goals and two assists for the Hawks in Game 5 of the 2010 Stanley Cup finals.

“I miss the people, but business had to move on,” said Byfuglien, who signed a five-year, $26 million extension with the franchise last season when it was in Atlanta.

Byfuglien and former Hawk and Jets captain Andrew Ladd had ­dinner with several former teammates Wednesday, and both received a warm reception from Hawks fans.

“[The Chicago] fans are great,” said Byfuglien, who was plus-2 in 22:48. “Anytime you can come back and play in the barn where you started, it’s always fun.”

Byfuglien talked with reporters before the game about how enjoyable it is to play for passionate fans again after playing to a half-empty building at the Philips Center in Atlanta.

“It’s fun to be back in front of a full barn again,” said Byfuglien, whose hometown of Roseau, Minn. is two hours away from Winnipeg. “[Philips Arena] was an empty building most of the time. It wasn’t the best environment to play in. The city wasn’t a bad city, I enjoyed it there. But any time you go in front of a full crowd, it’s special.”

Ladd said he also couldn’t resist a peek at the Hawks 2010 championship banner.

“It was my thing [that season] during the anthem to look at the banners,” Ladd said.

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