It appears Dustin Byfuglien and the Winnipeg Jets are back on speaking terms.
Mike McIntyre and Jason Bell of the Winnipeg Free Press report Byfuglien has started post-surgery rehabilitation on his ankle in consultation with the Jets. According to the outlet, "there's been ongoing communication with the organization including recommendations for his treatment which are being pursued."
A team spokesperson, however, said his status with the Jets remains unchanged.
"To our understanding he has progressed to the stage of doing rehab. However, his status with the team remains unchanged," the spokesman told the Free Press Tuesday. "He is doing rehab at an outside clinic. He is still under suspension."
The 34-year-old was suspended by the Jets after failing to report in training camp and was believed to be weighing retirement. The NHLPA filed a grievance on Byfuglien's behalf last month regarding the suspension.
"The battle lines are clearly drawn on this one," TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie explained at the time. "What does a grievance mean? Well, it means the National Hockey League Players' Association, on behalf of Dustin Byfuglien, is saying 'You know what? He's got a hockey injury and he should be getting paid right now by the Winnipeg Jets.' He's suspended without pay. That's the crux of the Byfuglien side of things from the NHLPA point of view.
"From the National Hockey League point of view, they're saying 'Whoa. Not a chance in the world that we would ever allow this to happen.’ At the end of last season, Dustin Byfuglien had an exit physical with the Winnipeg Jets and he was ruled completely healthy. He did not report to the Winnipeg Jets training camp. He didn't come to them and say, 'My ankle is really screwed up. I think it needs surgery, can we get it looked at? Can we get treatment?'
"He did not report. He was pondering his future, he was suspended without pay. Just because Dustin Byfuglien unilaterally went out and got surgery on that ankle in the last little while, in the view of the NHL, it doesn't mean that he can retroactively say, 'Now I've got a hockey injury, you've got to pay me.'
"This one won't get settled soon because Byfuglien's out for months before he's fully healthy. The grievance will be heard at some point, but not anytime soon."
The Free Press reports there has still been no date set for the arbitration hearing.
Byfuglien, who had four goals and 31 points in 42 games last season, is signed through next season at a cap hit of $7.6 million.