- Rick Haley
Byfuglien Returning to the Jets?
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
Byfuglien Coming Back to the Jets?
Remember when you used to play beer league hockey and you had that friend that was really good but wasn’t playing? He had kind of moved on. Got a new job, had a baby. Maybe he had an injury and just never came back? Maybe he was tired of 11:00 PM icetimes on a Tuesday night. “Hey John, what about your buddy Steve?” Most of you were tier 3, A level, community club players but Steve played junior. Steve could dance. He could control the game. He was big and strong. Steve was an athlete. Back in the day, you would all be bugging Steve. You wanted to win games and Steve would help.
Do you think this ever comes up in an NHL dressing room? Do you think the Penguins bugged Mario so much that he came out of retirement? Maybe it’s the wife. Was Guy Lafleur driving the Mrs. so crazy she got him to play for the Rangers? (how weird was that?). What really happened with Dustin Byfuglien? Will we ever know? Everything that I have read and heard points to that he just lost interest. His head wasn’t in it anymore.
Buff struck me as the kind of guy that only does things if he is having fun doing it (see fishing). He didn’t care about being famous, he didn’t seem to care about the money. He was an Allstar and he already won a Cup. He played almost 900 NHL games. His last season didn’t end well. The Jets went out in 6 games to the Blues (who went on to win the Cup). We found out later he was playing with an injury. Buff skipped the exit interviews and the last media availability with Scheifele and Wheeler looked very awkward. Something was up. Again, if Buff isn’t having fun, he isn’t having fun. You have to admire a guy walking away from 14 million.
Don’t get me wrong, most of us would kill to play in the NHL but like any job, it can be just a job at times. What makes most of us go to work? Many will say the money but really it is a lot more than that. It’s the relationships with co-workers, the satisfaction of being successful; the need to get up every morning. If those needs aren’t getting met or you have attained most of what you set out to do, the flights, the schedule, the hotels and practices would get old real quick.
I have buckets of respect for Dustin Byfuglien. On numerous occasions, coach Paul Maurice would speak of Buff as being a very unique NHL player. He was. He had size and he had hands.
He would manhandle 2 or 3 players in a scrum and then be seen singing along to PA music while on the bench. His vision and patience were almost incomparable. When the Jets were scrambling in their own end and an opponent’s goal looked inevitable, suddenly there was Buff with the puck on his stick. You could hear the entire arena let out its collective breath. He instantly created calm and then skated the puck out of the zone or flipped one of his backspin passes up over center.
I am very happy where the Jets are right now. We have great forwards, a Vezina winning goaltender and almost adequate defence. Here is all I need to make me very happy, “Kevin Cheveldayoff announces that Dustin Byfuglien is skating and working out. He has signed a one year deal for the league minimum and will re-join the team once he quarantines.” Buff is 35 and hasn’t played hockey in a year and a half. You can’t tell me however that you wouldn’t love to see a Josh Morrisey/Dustin Byfuglien pairing jump over the boards. In only 2 out of his last 12 seasons did he not have at least a half point a game. Those were both for the Blackhawks. He wouldn’t have to kill penalties. He wouldn’t need to play 26 minutes a night.
His veteran presence would help this team. Those crisp one touch passes wouldn’t hurt either. It could happen, couldn’t it? Blake, can you get your wife to call Buff’s wife?