Ilya Lyubushkin hasn't had trouble adapting to new team, new city

Lyubushkin has been paired recently with Jacob Bryson
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Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – After the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Ilya Lyubushkin from the Arizona Coyotes in February, he got to play three more games against the Buffalo Sabres. The Russian defenseman had already played two against Buffalo with the Coyotes, so he’s well aware of the type of team the Sabres are.

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That was one of the big reasons he's now here, and he says being in the locker room lets him know that he made the right choice.

“I’ve come to this group and seen how nice it is here," Lyubushkin said earlier this week after practice. "I’m so happy to be here, because they’re good guys and great teammates, and that’s so important for me.”

I’ve only had to get used to one new city in my lifetime, but Lyubushkin has had to get used to many new cities and a few new countries.

“I’m used to changing something in my life. We’ve moved from Russia, we’ve moved from Toronto to Buffalo, so we’re just used to it," Lyubushkin said. "It’s a little bit hard for my wife and kids, because we needed to find a school, so it’s a little bit tough. But in one month, we’re all set.”

It’s not just family that's challenging when making a move, there are other obstacles involved.

“We had to find a grocery store, some good restaurant. We did that, and I’m enjoying being here,” Lyubushkin said.

If you’re going to get to the NHL, many young kids leave their homes to play junior hockey or go to college. In Russia, Lyubushkin says it was different growing up.

“I stayed in one place, but we had tournaments maybe twice each year, so we’d travel a little bit," he explained.

Many players know they’ll be NHL players at a young age. Lyubushkin didn’t get to the NHL until he was 24.

For the most part, Lyubushkin has played with Jacob Bryson and Lawrence Pilut during the preseason. He likes using this time to try to build a chemistry with new players.

“It’s nice to play with, who could be, my partner, and it’s nice to try a couple of different guys,” Lyubushkin said.

When I brought up Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power and Mattias Samuelsson, you should have seen the smile it brought to Lyubushkin.

“They’re great hockey players. Rasmus and 'Sammy' and 'O.P.', they’re unbelievable,” he said with a grin while shaking his head.

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Lyubushkin has said many times that playing against Buffalo was a hard game for him. He’s a physical defenseman, and that’s his goal this year with this team, make them even tougher to play against.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
Featured Image Photo Credit: Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres)