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Chicago moving on from Dustin Byfuglien


Thomas Gidlow, general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, announced today that the team will "move on" from defenseman Dustin Byfuglien after his representation indicated he had asked for a leave of absence from the club.

"We respect Dustin's right to not play and take time away, but we have to make the best decisions we can for our hockey club," stated Gidlow, who refuted reports the Hawks were planning on suspending Byfuglien if he failed to report to training camp next month. "He was to be a big part of what we are doing here, but we will move on and continue towards building a championship team here in Chicago."

Byfuglien's agent, Ben Hankinson, issued a statement earlier today, which included "Dustin's desire to take a step back and re-evaluate his career." When reached via text message for this article, the agent replied, "Dustin is stepping away for personal reasons. We have no further comment at this time."

Byfuglien was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks around last season's trade deadline along with Kyle Clifford and a draft pick. Justin Braun, Calle Rosen, and prospect Nick Caamano were sent the other way. In 15 games with Chicago, he netted 13 points and contributed a goal and assist in five playoff contests.

The news came as a bit of a shock during a fairly quiet period of the EHE offseason. When pressed for specifics, Gidlow simply reiterated his earlier comments, adding "this is not going to play out over the media, that I can say for sure."

Whether Byfuglien is moved in a trade, released, or placed on an ineligible list remains to be seen. Gidlow mentioned a trade possibility but admitted he wasn't sure what sort of return he could expect.

"We would certainly entertain a trade. If something makes sense, we'll look at it. But we have to do what's best for this team. We're open for business and Dustin still has value should he decide to return."

"It just won't be here, unfortunately," Gidlow added.

Chip Whitley
Blackhawks Beat Reporter