The Dustin Byfuglien era in Winnipeg has come to an official conclusion. Although roughly six months too late, the Jets and Byfuglien reached an end to the legal conflict surrounding the team and player for the better part of 10 weeks. The NHLPA announced this move via a press release Friday morning:
“The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association announced today that the Winnipeg Jets and Player Dustin Byfuglien have mutually resolved the grievance filed by Mr. Byfuglien following his suspension by the Club in September 2019. Pursuant to the agreement, Byfuglien’s standard player’s contract with the Club has been terminated, effective immediately.”
Now an unrestricted free agent, Byfuglien – who played for eight years for the Jets, putting up 102 goals and 363 points in 528 games – will be free to sign with any team he wishes, should he resume his NHL career. However, he can only begin play in the 2020-21 season. He will not be making the $8 million owed in 2019-20 or the $6 million owed for the 2020-21 season which his contract extension from 2016 earlier indicated.
After stepping away from the game for personal reasons on September 13, 2019, Byfuglien was rumoured to be ‘pondering his future’ in the hockey realms. In late November, the NHLPA filed a grievance for the contract and renumeration of Byfuglien. In early February it was reported that Byfuglien and the Jets were working towards contract termination. Byfuglien then filed a grievance against Winnipeg, tying the hands of those would otherwise be able to spend his owed money elsewhere.
Now walking away from $14 million owed to Byfuglien over this current season and 2020-21, Winnipeg will be able to spend its money on some solid help on the blueline – something fans may have wanted a tad bit sooner. With the Byfuglien domino set to fall “at any point” over the course of this past season, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was unable acquire any additional support as the money was Byfuglien’s to lose.