Last time on “Byfuglien Watch” we learned that the NHL Players Association had officially filed a grievance over the Winnipeg Jets decision to suspend defenseman Dustin Byfuglien without pay for “failure to report” to training camp and that it was likely that the NHL and NHLPA had taken over proceedings and that things were about to get quite nasty between the two sides and between Byfuglien and the Jets as well because Buff didn’t feel like he was being treated fairly and the Jets may have felt a bit blindsided by Buff doing his own thing which is really just Buff being Buff.
But now we have word that maybe all isn’t so contentious and that there might even possibly be a happy end to this story which will see Byfuglien back on the ice and in a Jets uniform.
Mike McIntyre and Jason Bell of the Winnipeg Free Press reported late yesterday that not only is Byfuglien rehabbing, but that he’s doing so with the consultation of the Winnipeg Jets. He’s not working directly with the Jets or their team doctors, but there is at least a line of communication between the two sides. It’s also been speculated that the longer the grievance process drags on, the better the chances are for both sides to find an amicable solution.
This entire saga between Byfuglien and the Jets has been a very complicated one and it seems there have been missteps taken by both the team and the player along the way. The Jets certainly may not have properly diagnosed the injury, but at the same time Byfuglien broke CBA rules when he independently underwent surgery for his injury without direct consultation from the Jets to whom he is still under contract to until the end of the 2020-21 season.
So at this point, there is a chance that cooler heads prevail and that both the player and the team see the error of their ways and make up. It probably also doesn’t hurt that the Jets have defied different types of logic and are within striking distance of the Central division lead and could really use a 6’5″ 265 pound defenseman who would be relatively rested and ready for a stretch drive towards the playoffs.
The Jets would be a much better team with him in the lineup, but even more important than that, it would be an outright shame if one of the most popular and most important players in the first decade of the Winnipeg Jets 2.0 era departed from the team on bad terms, so here is hoping this latest news is a sign that we won’t have to worry about that.