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What?s Next in ?Complicated? Byfuglien Situation?


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When Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff described Dustin Byfuglien’s future as “a complicated situation,” he wasn’t lying.


The defenceman’s future is complex and confusing. In the middle of it is his 2018-19 ankle injury, his post-playoff exit physical, Byfuglien’s own unique take on the world, and now, the NHL and NHLPA.


There’s a reason Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is being evasive. The clamps are tight, he’s trying not to pour gasoline on the fire. That edict is from the league itself, which will take the lead on Byfgulien’s file.


At issue is Byfuglien’s season-ending physical. Taken after the Jets were eliminated in the first round by the St. Louis Blues, multiple sources indicate it pronounced him “fit to play.” According to Brian Burke, who has some expertise in these matters, these checkups must be signed by the doctor, the medical trainer and the player. There is also something called “Form 25A” — which labels you as “fit” or “unfit” — that must be signed by the doctor. If a player disputes the findings on Form 25A, he can seek a second opinion.


It is, I’m told, the NHL’s position that those results were never disputed during the summer and that, when Byfuglien informed the team that he wasn’t going to play, he said he’d lost his passion for hockey. Therefore, his preference was to retire.


In the reporting of this story, one thing was made clear to me: the NHL will fight hard to protect the integrity of the year-end physical. A player signing it, then successfully disputing it months later would lead to major legal league-wide consequences.


The league also feels Winnipeg did nothing wrong in this situation and should not be penalized.


Byfuglien didn’t complain about pain during the summer because he didn’t skate. He took it easy, thinking rest was best. It was only when he re-started skating immediately prior to training camp that he realized the ankle hadn’t healed.


He hasn’t spoken on this matter, but, according to a few sources, maintains that this was when he began thinking about retirement. The NHL season is a grind, and Byfuglien wasn’t excited about beginning it in pain. The proof, he feels, is that he moved his family back to Manitoba. If he hadn’t been thinking of playing, he wouldn’t have returned to the provincial capital.


Let’s say Byfuglien does decide to return. Does he want to go back to Winnipeg? Do the Jets even want him?

Cheveldayoff isn’t saying, but the suspicion is the Jets know they are much better with him than without him. As for the player’s choice, well, it’s much less certain.

I don’t know who is right, but I know there are hard feelings.



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Voluntarily didnt report to camp for the season

Voluntarily did not disclose of the re-occuring ankle issue until he had already stepped away from the team.


Jets should pay for the surgery.

Salary can be paid by the NHLPA emergency fund

If he decides he wants to play, he can be reinstated at that point.

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