Byfuglian, the jets are finished | Winnipeg Sun

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The Dustin Byfuglien saga is over.

The talented defenseman and the Winnipeg Jets have agreed to end his contract, ending a long and winding and peculiar dispute that began when Byfuglien did not show up for training camp in September.

The news came in the form of a statement from the NHL public relations department, which was posted on Twitter on Friday.

The release said that the Jets and Byfuglien “mutually resolved” the grievance filed by Byfuglien after his suspension in September, and that his contract was terminated “effective immediately”.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff recalled his first meeting with Byfuglien on September 11, the day before the start of training camp, a meeting that would begin a seven-month saga, during a conference call with journalists which boiled down to one simple truth: the big human heart was no longer in the game.

“It was a very emotional time,” said Cheveldayoff. “It was something which, I think, is still a bit of a private matter, and it will remain a bit private. But it was emotional. It was difficult for him to even come and speak to me. At that time, I asked him if he wanted a job and he said no, it had nothing to do with a job.

“He just didn’t know if he had it in him to keep playing. “

Cheveldayoff says he met Byfuglien at the Winnipeg defender’s home the next day and the two decided to take the time to think about it.

The two met again on September 21 at the arena and had “another long conversation,” said the general manager.

“He said he still didn’t want to retire but still didn’t know he had it on him to keep playing,” said Cheveldayoff. “We were getting to the point where we had to start making decisions about the list and the cap. At that point, I said, “Look, I have to suspend you,” and he understood and we stopped there. “

Things seemed to change on October 3, when Cheveldayoff said he took a call from Byfuglien’s agent Ben Hankinson, who said that Byfuglien wanted to play again.

There was a catch: he needed an ankle surgery.

“It was the first conversation that indicated, first, that he wanted to play and, second, that there had been surgery,” said the general manager.

A week later, on the opening day of the Jets’ home, the three met, confirmed where things were, and on October 23, Byfuglien was operated on in Minnesota.

He rehabilitated until January, and Cheveldayoff says it was when his return derailed.

“His agent informed me that he was not going to continue his rehabilitation,” said Cheveldayoff.

Instead of returning to the ice to start skating, Byfuglien returned to his original position: he was done with the game.

“We had other conversations at that time, the agent and I, to try to see if there was a type of potential trading and gambling situation,” said Cheveldayoff. “But it wasn’t really that. Dustin didn’t want to play and we respected that, and we got into the transaction time this way. “

Byfuglien’s decision to have the surgery raised the possibility that he had never fully recovered from injuries sustained the previous season, an idea of ​​the Jets’ handover.

“At the end of the previous year’s playoffs, he played more than 25 minutes a night in the St. Louis series, and he was a force there,” said Cheveldayoff. “We had no indication during the summer that anything was going on. We have had regular contact with him and all of our players, as we normally do. “

In any event, Byfuglien’s grievance did not have a leg to stand on because he did not show up for camp and did not follow through on the ice portion of his rehabilitation.

Cheveldayoff says there is no payment to Byfuglien in the final agreement to cancel his contract.

So he’s moving away from $ 14 million: he hadn’t paid the $ 8 million his contract called for this season, and he has another year left at $ 6 million.

Hankinson declined to comment, but confirmed Cheveldayoff’s version of events.

Despite the fact that the problem has somewhat reduced his ability to make progress on improving his list, Cheveldayoff says he will choose to remember the unique contributions Byfuglien made to the Jets, and not let the last chapter tarnish any the story of No. 33.

“Dustin showed his integrity in the sense that he didn’t have it with him,” said Cheveldayoff. “He wasn’t just going to go through the movements … Dustin’s choice was to be true to himself and not put himself and maybe the team and everyone in a difficult situation. If he really didn’t have it in him to keep playing, it’s probably the most honest thing he can say. “

Byfuglien has played eight seasons with the Jets, scoring 102 goals, 261 assists, for 363 points in 528 regular season games. He added seven goals and 18 assists in 27 playoff games.

But his value went beyond statistics, both as an intimidating force for opponents and as a wise presence, avoiding the media and releasing the pressure of his teammates, on and off the ice.

“We are grateful for the time we spent with Dustin here,” said Cheveldayoff. “He was a force of nature on and off the ice. Obviously, it was never our desired outcome or our end with Dustin.

“If the Jets had written the perfect script, it would have ended with Dustin holding a very large silver trophy above his head in the center of the ice and displaying his big, big smile. “

Byfuglien immediately became a free agent, but, at 35, it would be a shock to see him again lace the blades.

“There is only one person who can answer if he plays again,” said its chief executive. “And it’s Dustin. “

He does not speak.

This is the only thing that can be predicted for him.

Emily Byfuglien says goodbye

Dustin Byfuglien said nothing about his decision to hang up his skates.

But it seems that the unexpected turn of events this season has even taken his wife by surprise.

In a post on Instagram, Emily Byfuglien said goodbye to Winnipeg and all the fans who spoke.

“I never thought for a second that our time here would be shortened under these circumstances,” she wrote. “The past eight months have been the hardest of my life. I had a hard time accepting the situation. I struggled as a wife and as a mother under stress. I didn’t want all of this to be true… and I’m beyond the devastation of having to leave here.

“I have had Dustin’s best 8 years in the NHL here in Winnipeg.”

Emily Byfuglien thanked the Jets organization and a city she said treated them like family, saying she will miss schools, children’s sports and other Jets’ wives and girlfriends.

“We grew up together and as a family here, and I wouldn’t change that for the world,” she wrote. “The support from the Winnipeggers has been overwhelming.

“There is just something different in Winnipeg. I will always be a Winnipegger at heart. “

The couple have three children.

The Byfuglian saga

September 11th: The day before the start of training camp, defender Dustin Byfuglien texted Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to request a meeting. They meet and he drops the bomb: he is no longer sure he wants to play.

September 12: Cheveldayoff visits Byfuglien at his home to discuss things further. They decide to let a little time pass. Cheveldayoff hopes that Byfuglien changes his mind.

September 13: After the first day of ice training, head coach Paul Maurice told reporters that there is “nothing sinister” about the absence of Byfuglien. “He needs time and we gave him time. “

September 20: Head coach Paul Maurice told reporters that he had met Byfuglien the day before. Don’t reveal anything about their conversation.

September 21: Cheveldayoff and Byfuglien meet at the arena to discuss the situation. The GM tells the defender that he must start making roster decisions and that he will have to put Byfuglien on the suspended list.

October 3: Byfuglien’s agent Ben Hankinson calls Cheveldayoff with good news: his client wants to play again. But first he needs an ankle surgery.

October 10: On the day of the Jets’ opening game against Minnesota, Cheveldayoff meets Byfuglien and Hankinson here in Winnipeg, and they reiterate Byfuglien’s desire to have the surgery and resume his career.

October 23: Byfuglien was operated on in Minnesota and is starting his rehabilitation. The news leaked about a week later.

November 20: The NHL Players’ Association files a grievance against the Jets and the NHL on behalf of Byfuglien, contesting his suspension.

Mid to late January: Hankinson contacts Cheveldayoff to tell him that Byfuglien’s ankle has healed, but he has changed his mind and will not go to the next stage of his re-education, which is skating, because he no longer wants to play.

February: Cheveldayoff has asked Hankinson a few times to possibly trade his client before the deadline, but it’s clear that Byfuglien doesn’t want trades because he just doesn’t want to play.

April 17: The NHL announces that Byfuglien’s grievance has been abandoned and his contract has ended, which makes him a free agent.

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Twitter: @friesensunmedia

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