As the clock reaches 2020, Winnipeg Jets fans should wonder if suspended defender Dustin Byfuglien will even take the ice for the team this season. Will the team welcome you even after you return from an ankle surgery in October and if you want to play?
General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff on Monday tried to answer those questions when he spoke to reporters as part of a speech about the state of the union midway through the Jets season.
"That will really depend on Buff and his leg or ankle and that aspect of things," Cheveldayoff said about how long it could take Byfuglien's recovery through Athletic. "There are still a few more phases before anything can become real. You are working in an external clinic. Do we know how progress is going? Sure. We receive updates on how progress is going. Are we directing it?? No. The doctor with the one who had the surgery (with) is directing it. ”
The absence of Byfuglien from the Winnipeg Jets has taken over the team as a spectrum this season. The big defender took a personal license in September that later became speculation that he was considering retiring.
The Jets suspended Byfuglien during training camp to get rid of his $ 7.6 million salary until he reported, but the matter was further complicated when the 34-year-old man underwent ankle surgery in October and the NHLPA filed a complaint about his name challenging his suspension.
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On New Year's Eve, the general manager noted that Byfuglien's injuries limited him to only 16 NHL games in the last calendar year (10 in the regular season, six during the first round of the 2019 NHL playoffs). He added that the defender has progressed to the rehabilitation phase as part of his recovery from that October surgery; However, he does not know how long that phase will last.
"The first and most important thing is that Dustin Byfuglien has to decide in his mind that he wants to play," he added. "That is the biggest hypothesis, so we can all answer those hypotheses if you answer first. It has been out for quite some time."
When it comes to the complaint from the players association filed on behalf of Byfuglien, Cheveldayoff said he has not yet received an update on the potential timetable for that process. Nor did he know if Byfuglien is about to skate again, and even said he had not spoken to the veteran defender at some point.
Ultimately, the cards seem to be in the hands of Byfuglien, and his team, sitting just inside the playoff image of the Western Conference on New Year's Eve, doesn't seem to know how or when he could play them.