Report: Jets, Byfuglien likely headed to arbitration

The Dustin Byfuglien situation appears to have hit another complication.

The veteran blue-liner and the Winnipeg Jets are likely headed to arbitration to settle the ongoing saga, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday's "Headlines" segment.

Byfuglien was suspended by the team without pay to begin the season as he contemplated retirement despite having two seasons left on his contract. However, he recently underwent ankle surgery to repair unresolved issues from an injury suffered last season.

If Byfuglien had no intention of retiring but was deemed unfit to play to begin the season due to a hockey-related injury, he likely would've been placed on long-term injured reserve and been able to collect his salary.

"It’s emotional, it’s heated, and it’s likely going to arbitration," Friedman said. "... But, from what I understand, (the Jets) feel in the exit physical at the end of last year, Dustin Byfuglien was deemed fit to play. He didn’t let anyone know that he had injuries with his ankle all summer, and made it clear at the beginning of the year he was ready to retire.

"However, Byfuglien - his representatives at Octagon and I assume the Players’ Association, too - their position is Byfuglien was hurt going into the playoffs, everybody knew that, he was playing injured, he took all summer off to heal, he went to Winnipeg because he planned to play, his ankle acted up again when he started skating, and they feel it’s a legitimate hockey injury.

"As part of the surgery, (they) discovered a broken bone in his foot, but there’s also dispute over when that injury occurred and when everybody knew this. So, laying it out that way right now, I think now everybody has a better understanding of why an arbitrator, as we sit here tonight, is probably going to have to decide this."

Byfuglien has already missed out on roughly $1.4 million of his salary this year, Sportsnet's Chris Johnston added.

The Jets, meanwhile, have severely missed their minutes leader from the last four seasons. In addition to Byfuglien, the offseason departures of Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and Ben Chiarot have left Winnipeg's blue line shorthanded. Josh Morrissey is the only holdover to play more than 25 games for the Jets last year.

Winnipeg enters Saturday ranked 21st in goals allowed after finishing in the top half of the league the last two campaigns.

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