According to reports by Elliotte Friedman and Chris Johnston on Saturday Headlines during the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast last night, the situation between the Winnipeg Jets and Dustin Byfuglien has gotten messy.
In fact, things aren’t just messy, it sounds like there’s a bit of a battle brewing that only an arbitrator will be able to solve.
Friedman and Johnston provided an update on the ever-changing saga and suggested an arbitrator is now likely to get involved. The reason is that the Jets are claiming Byfuglien didn’t properly disclose his injury issues at the end of last season. He was given a clean bill of health and the expectation was he would return in 2019-20, but was contemplating retirement.
As such, when it was learned Byfuglien wasn’t sure if he’d return at the start of this year’s NHL regular season, it shouldn’t come as a shock the Jets weren’t surprised.
Somewhere along the lines, things apparently changed — at least according to the Jets.
Byfuglien’s reps are saying what the Jets believe to be the case is not accurate as everyone knows Big Buff was injured. In fact, he played in the playoffs injured, it was known he’d try and use the summer to rest, heal up and return. He skated, his ankle wasn’t healed and he needed surgery getting the two sides to the point they are at now.
Johnston notes that the issues are now about money. If it was deemed this was an NHL-related injury, Byfuglien is owed somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1.4 million for the times he’s missed so far this season. Then there will be a battle over how much of the rest of his salary he should receive, even if it takes him some time to come back. Of course, Friedman noted that his coming back to Winnipeg is now in question as both sides might want to move on.
Could Byfuglien Be Traded?
Obviously, if Byfuglien has said he’s willing to come back but both sides are at odds with each other, there is a door opening to a possible trade down the line. Clearly, that won’t happen while he’s injured but Johnston says this isn’t really about whether or not Byfuglien wants to return to the NHL as it seems clear he now does. The questions will center around where he ends up.