Dustin Byfuglien, Jets agree to terminate contract

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Justin Cuthbert
·2 min read
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WINNIPEG, MB - APRIL 18: Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Winnipeg Jets looks on during a second period stoppage in play against the St. Louis Blues in Game Five of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell MTS Place on April 18, 2019 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The Blues defeated the Jets 3-2 to lead the series 3-2. (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)
Dustin Byfuglien and the Winnipeg Jets are parting ways as a strange saga comes to an end. (Getty)

Dustin Byfuglien and the Winnipeg Jets have lowered their weapons.

On Friday morning, the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association announced that Byfuglien and the Jets had mutually agreed on a contract termination. The joint decision extinguishes the grievance Byfuglien filed against the Jets after the former defenseman failed to report for training camp at the start of the NHL season — which is, of course, currently on pause amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Byfuglien had two seasons remaining on his contract when it was initially suspended, and as part of the agreement finalized Friday he will forfeit the remaining $14 million on the original five-year, $38-million deal, reports TSN’s Frank Seravalli.

Seravalli adds that the strength of Byfuglien’s grievance case was diminished because he “basically stopped rehabbing,” and was no longer pushing for a return.

The Jets sent this out shortly after the decision was finalized:

Strange circumstances and a back-and-forth between Byfuglien and the Jets have carried the story since the 35-year-old former Stanley Cup champion decided not to report to training camp in the fall.

Byfuglien underwent surgery in October to repair a high-ankle sprain that he claims to have suffered and played through last season. And it was reported that the ankle injury, and the inaction taken to repair the joint to that point, was the primary reason Byfuglien stayed home, and ultimately wished to retire.

Naturally, there would be a tug-o-war for the money remaining on Byfuglien’s deal. And because the Jets’ medical personnel deemed that he was fit to play following his year-end physical last season, the player’s position seemed invalidated, and the organization saw no reason to continue paying an employee that breached the conditions on their contract.

After originally granting Byfuglien a leave of absence on Sept. 13 and allowing the player to mull the retirement option, the Jets made the “procedural” decision to suspend him without pay a little over a week later, and wound up allocating resources elsewhere, triggering contract extensions with Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor.

While the Jets were able to use the $7.6 million previously tied up in the hulking defenseman, his absence created a significant hole on the club’s back-end this season.

At this point Byfuglien has not officially retired, and is now technically free to sign with another team if he so chooses.

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