Last week, defenceman Dustin Byfuglien and the Winnipeg Jets came to an agreement to terminate his contract. That means he's free to sign wherever he wants for the 2020-21 season. Whether he wants to play or not is still up in the air, but at the least, his time as a Thrasher/Jet has come to an end.
It's hard to blame him if he wants to hang up the skates. He has tens of millions in the bank and a Stanley Cup to his name. He's both ensured the financial future of his family and has reached the pinnacle of the sport. There's nothing left to prove, and if he doesn't want to keep rehabbing injuries, no one can blame him.
It's still a sad day for hockey fans in general. For me, personally, Byfuglien was one of the defencemen I loved to watch. You know how people wax poetic about Evgeni Malkin and that when he decided to take over a game, there was nothing the opposition could do? I feel the same about Byfuglien on the blue line. When he decided no one was getting past him, when he decided that he was going to rush the puck, when he decided he wanted to get to the net, no one could stop him. Now, it's hard playing at 100 percent effort when you're like 6'5 " and 250 lbs, but when he had the energy, he could dominate all facets of a game like few modern-era defencemen.
Let's not forget his versatility. This is a guy who played both forward and defence, and played the latter at times to a Norris-level (in fact, from 2011-2017, he finished in the top-15 of Norris voting five times, and I believe he was greatly short-changed in a few of those seasons).
I don't want to say we won't see another defenceman like him, but guys his size playing that position that well just doesn't happen that much anymore. There are guys like Erik Cernak and Colton Parayko, but even they're probably 30-40 pounds lighter than Byfuglien. Doing what he did at his size is just so, so hard to pull off.
All in all, he was a special player in more ways than one and if this is the end, it'll leave a Big hole in the NHL. All the best to him and his family with whatever the future holds.
Sometimes, as someone who writes about fantasy hockey, I tend to gloss over certain things. When you get very comfortable writing about a subject, sometimes it's easy to forget both the audience and the components of the material. What is meant by that is things can't just always be summed into one number or explained away in a single paragraph. Breaking down the numbers further while adding some context should always be the goal.
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