When you talk about athletes being in shape, you typically don’t talk about an athlete actually being a shape. But that’s exactly where the Winnipeg Jets find themselves in relation to defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, whose conditioning issues have become a serious problem.
It’s no secret that Byfuglien has let himself go over the last couple of summers. That’s typically how he operates. He balloons up during the summer, then drops a whole bunch of weight prior to the season and gets back into shape just in time. It’s worked for the defenseman so far.
But at the end of the 2013 season, Byfuglien had reportedly reached a weight over 300 pounds. Yes, Buff is a big guy to begin with so he’s not exactly going to be light on the skates. But that type of weight is a real issue. Especially when it begins to impact his performance.
It’s not likely that the lockout had prevented Byfuglien from staying in shape. His conditioning was something that declined as the shortened season wore on. And as that conditioning got worse, his play also declined, as the Jets faded down the stretch and missed out on a playoff spot.
In addition to that, Byfuglien has apparently had issues with the coaching staff in Winnipeg, as well as the fact that he’s undisciplined out on the ice, which has been known about him for quite some time. The Jets don’t want to trade him, which means the onus is going to be on Byfuglien to take responsibility for his conditioning.
If he can improve that aspect, one would have to imagine that everything else would come along with it. Buff has long been a guy with a questionable attitude, and the questions surrounding his conditioning have always been there. But it’s reached the point where it’s become a real problem, as it had a heavily negative effect on his performance.
Byfuglien, quite literally, needs to shape up this summer. If he can get his conditioning under control and his weight to a reasonable level, he’s capable of rising to an elite level, while the Jets would be much better off. If not, he might have an issue finding an interested team outside of Winnipeg.