Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets close to signing divorce papers: report
Fan favourite and True North Sports and Entertainment appear to have irreconcilable differences
It looks like Dustin Byfuglien will never skate for the Winnipeg Jets again.
Sportsnet is reporting the fan-favourite defenceman and the Jets are on the verge of terminating their contract with each other, potentially ending an impasse that began during this season's training camp.
The six-foot-five Byfuglien, an imposing and entertaining presence on the Jets' blueline since the NHL returned to Winnipeg in 2011, has not played a game with the Jets all season.
He was suspended without pay during training camp, in September, and underwent ankle surgery in October. The Jets claimed the club was not aware he would undergo surgery.
Byfuglien stood to earn $8 million this year and another $6 million next year with Winnipeg. If he and the Jets agree to end their contract, he would forfeit this money — and any claim against it — but could sign with another team.
He would have to do so by Feb. 24 in order to play for another NHL team this season. Sportsnet reported that is unlikely because Byfuglien has not skated this season.
Byfuglien would also have to clear waivers, meaning other teams would have the oppportunity to claim his rights.
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The end of the contract would also free up salary-cap space for the Jets, who have struggled on defence this season. The Jets could sign other players with this space, although it's unclear if the team would do that because they sit outside the playoff line.
"If this is the way it gets finalized in the next few days, I think it allows the Jets to do some things if they want to," Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said during Saturday's Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
The Jets declined to comment Monday.
Byfuglien has 177 goals, 525 points and 1,094 penalty minutes in 869 regular-season games with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets franchise.