Former Blackhawks player Dustin Byfuglien is taking personal time off to consider his NHL future, with sources speculating he may retire this year.
Dustin Byfuglien, currently on personal leave from WPG, is believed to be using the time to ponder his NHL future. I’m not saying Byfuglien is retiring; I’m not saying he’s coming back to play. Only that he’s contemplating his options and there’s no timetable for a decision.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 18, 2019
Byfuglien is 34 years old and currently plays on the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets announced on Sept. 13 that Byfuglien would be taking time off from the team, declining to cite an official reason for his departure.
Byfuglien has two years left on his contract, with an annual value of approximately $7.6 million.
Byfuglien was an eighth-round, 245th overall draft pick for Chicago, entering the NHL in 2003. He played with the Hawks until 2010. In his NHL career, Byfuglien has played in 869 regular-season games, scoring 177 goals, 525 points and 1,094 penalty minutes.
While many fans of the Jets and Byfuglien may be sad if he does decide to retire (remember, nothing is official yet), it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Byfuglien to be considering retirement considering his age. According to Natural Stat Tick and The Athletic, the average age for an NHL player during the 2017-18 season was 27.1, with Chicago and Winnipeg at the center of the bell curve. Byfuglien is seven years older than the median and while he isn’t the oldest player in the NHL by a long shot, he’s no spring chicken either.
Whatever Byfuglien decides to do, he has had an illustrious and impactful career in the NHL and we wish him nothing but the best going forward.