WINNIPEG — Dustin Byfuglien is no longer a member of the Winnipeg Jets organization, as both sides have come to an agreement to mutually separate.
The NHL announced the decision Friday in a statement, say both sides have “mutually resolved the grievance filed by Mr. Byfuglien following his suspension by the club in September 2019.”
Byfuglien had been with the Jets’ organization since its last season in Atlanta in 2010-11. The hulking fan favourite was a four-time all-star during his time with the Thrashers/Jets, serving as a long-time alternate captain.
Things turned sour, however, at the beginning of this season.
Byfuglien had been granted a leave of absence by the team for personal reasons, but was then suspended without pay after he failed to report to training camp in September.
The native of Roseau, Minn., subsequently filed a grievance challenging the suspension and underwent surgery in October for a high ankle sprain.
“This was never our desired outcome or ending with Dustin,” said Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff on a conference call. “If it were the Jets writing the perfect script, it would’ve ended with Dustin holding a great, big silver trophy over his head at centre ice and flashing that great, big smile.
“But we’re grateful for the time that we did have with Dustin here. He was a force of nature on and off the ice. He has a tremendously infectious personality that you can’t help but like the person. He played a significant role on our team for a long time.”
Byfuglien had two more years remaining on his five-year, US $38-million contract. He would have earned $8 million in the 2019-20 season and $6 million in the final season.
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.
The Minnesota native last played in the 2018-19 season, which was plagued by a concussion and two ankle injuries. He recorded 31 points (4 goals, 27 assists).
“We certainly live in a time right now when we all understand that things do happen that are sometimes unexpected,” Cheveldayoff added. “It’s about how we choose to move on.
“Dustin still remains, in my estimation, a tremendous person.”
The @NHLJets and Dustin Byfuglien reach agreement – Player’s contract terminated. pic.twitter.com/K6pYFkmy8Y
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 17, 2020
Thank you Dustin Byfuglien for your contributions over the years to the Winnipeg Jets!
As a member of our organization, Byfuglien played 636 regular season and playoff games and tallied 441 points in that time. pic.twitter.com/bXvJ9zcy47
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) April 17, 2020
— With files from The Canadian Press