Quinton Byfield ready for a bigger role at world juniors
In Quinton Byfield’s Instagram bio, he has a smile emoji and a link to the
definition of the word smile.
The use of emoji’s are everywhere, sometimes overused in today’s world, but it certainly defines
Byfield as he tries to make a positive impact and embrace every experience given to him.
Last year, as the youngest player on Team Canada, Byfield was primarily used as a 13th forward
during the tournament and didn’t play a single minute in the gold medal game, but that didn’t
phase Byfield — he embraced it.
“I didn’t play much, but I really felt it helped me develop in my hockey career. I got to see what it
takes to perform on the world stage,” said Byfield earlier this week from his hotel in Edmonton.
“Going into the tournament (last year) it was really iffy if I was going to make the team or not. I
wanted to take any spot just to play and be part of the team and embrace any role given to me.
My focus was on the team’s success, and that was an experience I’ll never forget.”
This year, Byfield is still the youngest player on Team Canada, but the 18-year-old centre is
ready to make a bigger impact in is second chance with Team Canada.
Byfield is expected to take on a much larger role with Canada — especially after Canada lost the
services of captain and Chicago forward Kirby Dach to a wrist injury for the entire
tournament in Wednesday pre-tournament game against Russia. Byfield will be relied on even
“The coaches talked to each one of us before camp started and they expect more out of me.
“They want me to be a bigger part of the team and take on more of an offensive role and I’m
ready for it.”
Expectations have always been big for the six-foot-five, 220-pound centre who was tasked in
turning around the Sudbury Wolves organization that had fallen on hard times.
He helped turn Sudbury into a contender again and his impact spread further than just on the
ice it was felt throughout the city with his charitable efforts helping sick kids.
WATCH | Quinton Byfield discusses being the highest-drafted Black player in NHL history:
Last year, before COVID-19 shut down the sporting world, Byfield put up 32 goals and 80 points
in 52 games and was poised to help the Wolves go on a Memorial Cup run, just two years after
the team drafted him with the first overall pick in the 2018 OHL draft.
“We knew he was going to be special from the moment he stepped on the ice for his first practice
with us, he had that wow factor,” said Wolves GM Rob Papineau.
“He’s always had a positive attitude and a leader who’s willing to take on any challenge. He’s an
amazing young role model for people. He’s been huge for our team and the city. He’s going to go
down as likely as the greatest Wolves player in our franchise history.
“Every single time he was on the ice you would get to the edge of your seat. Every shift was
anticipated and he delivered for us. We’re proud that he will always be a Sudbury Wolve.”
In a year, where the 18-year-old faced the pressures of the NHL draft in the middle of a global
pandemic, that didn’t stop him from becoming the highest-drafted black player in NHL history
after the Los Angeles Kings selected him with the second overall pick.
‘I want to use my platform to have a positive influence’
When the NHL returned to play this summer, Byfield watched Minnesota Wild defenceman
Mathew Dumba show incredible courage before the national anthem of the opening game by
delivering a heartfelt speech about racism and social injustice, and that sparked others around
the NHL to speak up and take action.
Making history is special for Byfield, but he wants to use his platform to help create change in
a sport that is working hard to fix issues of race and equality.
“Down the road, that is definitely something I want to be a part of. I want to use my platform to
have a positive influence on the game,” said Byfield.
“I was always welcomed and never really faced anything like that, but I want everyone to have
the same dream, no matter their skin colour or where they come from.”