The Winnipeg Jets and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien have come to terms on an agreement to terminate his contract, the NHL announced Friday.
According to the release, Byfuglien and the Jets agreed to resolve the grievance filed by the blueliner in September of 2019. That grievance was filed after he was suspended by the Jets for not reporting to training camp.
“No financial settlement. Just a mutual agreement to terminate and walk away,” said Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff.
Byfuglien would’ve earned $8 million this season and $6 million next season, the last two seasons of his five-year contract with the club.
It all began when Byfuglien told Cheveldayoff that he had lost his desire to play the game of hockey. This was the day before training camp. Management asked Byfuglien if he desired a trade and he answered in the negative. Following that, the organization granted the defenceman some personal time off. A few weeks later, Cheveldayoff and Byfuglien met. The blueliner said he was not ready to return but also not ready to retire.
Then came the suspension.
By the first week of October, Byfuglien changed his mind and asserted a desire to play. But there’s a problem: surgery. Byfuglien requires surgery on his ankle and has it later in October.
The NHLPA subsequently filed a grievance challenging the aforementioned suspension. There was also some discrepancy regarding the ankle injury and the nature of when it occurred, with the Jets arguing that he was fit to play following his season-concluding 2018-2019 physical.
The way this ended is about the only way it could’ve ended and it does, believe it or not, leave the door open for Byfuglien to return to the Winnipeg Jets. There are aspects of this case that only the players and participants will know, of course, but it’s definitely a relief the theatrics are over.
Photo credit: NHL.com