Last week the Jets announced that defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was granted a ‘leave of absence’ from the team for personal reasons. While the Jets maintained that they fully supported Byfuglien and that in the words of head coach Paul Maurice there was “nothing sinister” about the absence, a few have speculated about the cause and possible reasons behind it.
Now less than one week after Big Buff took that leave of absence, this little bombshell from TSN insider Bob McKenzie who suggests that Byfuglien’s own hockey future including possible retirement is being considered.
Darren Dreger added that there is no set timetable for a decision and/or a possible return.
First and foremost beyond anything else, what matters is the health and well being of Dustin Byfuglien. If this recent speculation is true – and with multiple sources chiming in on the matter, there is no reason to believe it isn’t – then Buff should absolutely take all the time he needs and if it does lead to his retirement, it would be absolutely understandable considering the wear and tear his body has gone through over a 14 year NHL career. The last two of those seasons have seen him miss significant time due to injuries including leg and head injuries.
Not unlike Justin Williams of the Carolina Hurricanes who recently put his career on pause over what he described as “indecision, and without the type of mental and physical commitment that he was accustomed to having” he stepped away from the game for the time being – not outright retiring however.
Dustin Byfuglien could be going through the same emotions himself.
Unlike Williams though, Byfuglien is under contract to an NHL club which is where this does get a bit tricky for the Jets as far as salary cap implications and roster considerations. TSN’s Frank Seravalli did a good and brief recap of those scenarios on Twitter…
Beyond the Salary Cap considerations is the impact Buff’s departure would have on the Jets roster which has already seen departures of Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, Ben Chiarot and Joe Morrow – players who played at least 41 games or more for Winnipeg last season.
TSN’s Pierre Lebrun did speculate that if Byfuglien were to go, the Jets might have options to trade for blue-line help.
No one said they were great options. Not to mention the Jets would very obviously be negotiating these trades from a point of weakness where other teams could try to exploit a Jets club that is in desperate need of defensive help.
For now, all of this remains speculation while Dustin Byfuglien takes his time to decide what is best for Dustin Byfuglien.
In the meantime, it’s just one more crazy thing to happen to the Jets in a Training Camp that has been anything but quiet or routine.