After a lengthy dispute, defenceman Dustin Byfuglien and the Winnipeg Jets have reached an agreement to terminate his contract, the NHL announced Friday.
The league said that Byfuglien and the Jets have resolved the grievance filed by the veteran rearguard after he opted not to report to training camp last September and he was suspended by the team.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told reporters after the announcement that there’s no financial settlement as part of the agreement. Byfuglien was slated to earn $8 million this season and $6 million next. He was in the second-last season of a five-year, $38-million contract with the Jets.
“No financial settlement. Just a mutual agreement to terminate and walk away,” said Cheveldayoff.
Cheveldayoff said the 35-year-old told him he had lost his desire to play the day before training camp. But in October, Byfuglien’s agent reached out to the GM, saying Byfuglien wanted to play again but needed surgery on his ankle, which was performed later in the month. The NHLPA filed the grievance challenging his suspension in November.
The Jets said the veteran defenceman was deemed fit to play after his 2018-19 season-ending physical, he didn’t indicate he was dealing with an ankle injury during the summer and made it clear at the beginning of the year he was ready to retire.
Sportsnet‘s Elliotte Friedman noted earlier this year that if Byfuglien has a desire to play in the future, there will be interest.
The bruising defenceman from Roseau, Minn., had spent eight years in Winnipeg, prior to the 2019-20 campaign, collecting 363 points over 528 games. He also had 53 points in 81 games with the Thrashers before the franchise departed Atlanta for Manitoba.
“I have nothing but gratitude towards the Jets for an amazing 8 years in Winnipeg. What an awesome experience it has been,” Byfuglien’s wife, Emily, wrote in a post on Instagram on Friday. “From having our first baby here, to now raising 3 kids in this much loved community. We have grown up together and as a family here, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. The support from Winnipeggers has been overwhelming. I appreciate all of you that have reached out to me with support and kindness.”
Byfuglien was dealt to the then-Thrashers in the 2010 off-season as the Chicago Blackhawks were forced to dismantle their Stanley Cup-winning team due to cap constrictions.
He had 109 points across 260 games with Chicago, where he spent the first five years of his career after being drafted by the club in the eighth round (245th overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft.
A four-time all-star, Byfuglien has racked up a total of 525 points in 869 games over the course of his career.