Jets and Dustin Byfuglien agree to terminate contract

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The Winnipeg Jets and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien have agreed to a mutual contract termination, ending a tense relationship between the team and a former face of the franchise.

The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association made the announcement on Friday.

Byfuglien was part of the Jets organization since its last season in Atlanta in 2010-2011. The fan-favorite was four-time all-star during his time with the Thrashers / Jets, serving as longtime captain.

However, things went wrong at the start of this season.

Byfuglien was granted leave by the team for personal reasons, but was suspended without pay after being absent from training camp in September.

The native of Roseau, Minnesota, later filed a grievance challenging the suspension and underwent surgery in October for a sprained ankle.

“It’s a complicated problem,” said Jets GM of Byfuglien

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said the team was not directly involved in the medical process.

“This is a complicated question,” Cheveldayoff told reporters at the time. “This is a really complicated problem when it comes to answering any questions you may have. “

Cheveldayoff wouldn’t say there was a difference of opinion between the club and Byfuglien’s side on the type of medical procedure necessary to treat his ankle injury he suffered at the end of last season.

“We knew he was considering (surgery),” he said. “When we said we weren’t directly involved, we weren’t directly involved. But we knew he was considering it. For what remains for the future, this is something we will just have to wait and see. “

The absence of Byfuglien this season was a blow to the Jets’ defense which also lost Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot over the summer. Winnipeg managed to stay competitive thanks in large part to Connor Hellebuyck’s Vezina Trophy caliber goaltender, and was in the playoff position when the NHL broke its season on March 12 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday’s announcement frees up $ 7.6 million in wage cap space for the Jets next season – money the team could not use during the 2019-20 campaign due to uncertainty the status of Byfuglian.

The 35-year-old has 177 goals, 525 points and 1,094 penalty minutes in 869 regular season games with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and the Atlanta / Winnipeg franchise.

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