The Dustin Byfuglien situation just got even murkier for the Winnipeg Jets, as Bob McKenzie of TSN reported tonight that the veteran defenseman underwent ankle surgery recently. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet adds that Byfuglien faces a recovery that will take him to the New Year, but with the uncertainty around whether he even wants to play in the NHL anymore this really clarifies nothing. Even stranger, the Jets issued a statement explaining that they were not the ones who decided on the surgery (via Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun):
We were aware he was contemplating having surgery, but were not directly involved with the decision making process.
As Friedman and McKenzie point out, this is a confusing outcome given that Byfuglien is currently suspended by the team, which means he isn’t being paid the $8MM salary his contract carries this year. Had he just been placed on injured reserve following the surgery he would be entitled to that salary, even if a good chunk of it was covered by insurance.
At this point, it is not clear how the Jets or Byfuglien will handle this next hurdle, though we at least now know there will be no immediate return to action. The Jets will have to hope their defense can hold things together in the meantime without the 34-year old.