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Winnipeg Jets Suspend Dustin Byfuglien

Byfuglien asked for time away and was granted it. But, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Jets had to suspend Byfuglien until he reports.

34-year-old defensemen Dustin Byfuglien asked the Winnipeg Jets at the start of training camp for a leave of absence. No reason was made public as to why he wanted it, but speculation is that it’s not injury related, but more about the star blueliner contemplating his future and possible retirement from the NHL.

In short, Byfuglien asked for time away from the team and the team granted it. But, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the new development of this highly-followed situation is that to avoid being hit with his cap number while away, the Jets had to suspend Byfuglien until he reports.

The fact that the team and the NHL is calling this a suspension is just a technicality, but that’s what it needs to be called to give the Winnipeg Jets the freedom the organization needs to make moves or alternate arrangements should Byfuglien miss any significant time.

McKenzie reports that on Saturday, the paperwork was filed with the NHL to suspend Byfuglien, but it can be reversed at any time. McKenzie adds that Byfuglien is well aware of the situation, understands it’s a formality and there are no hard feelings between either side.

What’s Next in the Byfuglien/ Jets Storyline?

With the formal paperwork done, everyone waits.

While injuries aren’t considered to be the reason he’s gone and those that know and have seen him say he’s in great shape, injuries did hamper his last season as he dealt with a concussion issues and other injuries that limited him to 42 games. Elliott Friedman said that he got the sense that things just weren’t feeling 100% both physically and mentally and he Byfuglien needed time to sort things out.

Wit two years remaining on a five-year, $38 million contract, should he walk away, he’ll be walking away from a lot of money. That said, he’s already made a lot of money.

But, on suspension, the Jets now have $23 million in available cap space, some of which will be used to try and extend both Patrick Laine and Kyle Connor.

It would be wise of the Jets not to think that Byfuglien’s absence gives the team carte blanche to spend money. Byfuglien could come back at any time, the Jets certainly need him on their blue line and if no longer on suspension, his $7.6 million per season once again counts against the cap.

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