Originally written on Around The Rink  |  Last updated 10/19/14
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Dustin Byfuglien weighed 302 pounds? Image Credit: Marianne Helm, Getty Images Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is nicknamed “Big Buff” for a reason. At 6’5″, 265 pounds (his listed size on the Jets’ website), he is one of the biggest players in the entire league. However, one report seems to indicate he lived up to his nickname a little too well. According to Peter Tessier, a blogger who covers the Jets, Byfuglien ballooned up to 300 pounds by the end of the 2013 season- a weight more befitting an NFL lineman than an NHL blueliner. An article from Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press brought Tessier’s claims to the forefront, writing this: “It was evident Byfuglien grew heavier this season as the games moved on and according to accredited Jets blogger Pete Tessier, the player’s weight rose to 302 pounds by season’s end.” 302 pounds. That’d make him the heaviest playercurrently in the NHL by a wide margin, and likely the heaviest player in NHL history. According to SportingCharts, the next closest player to Byfuglien’s weight currently in the NHL would be John Scott, who is 270 pounds but has a 6’8″ frame over which to stretch that weight over. The same study lists the heaviest NHL players since 1990- a list Byfuglien would easily top if that 302 lb. figure is indeed accurate. Byfuglien is one of Winnipeg’s best defensemen, but this has to be cause for concern. Playing NHL hockey at three bills borders on the ridiculous- the lack of conditioning and risk to one’s health at that kind of playing weight are very real issues, issues that are magnified by the fact that Byfuglien is also set to make $5.75M this year. As Lawless also points out in the article, as Byfuglien’s weight rose, his level of play slipped : “Byfuglien regressed this past season as his conditioning slipped and he became more and more unpredictable as a player. There were some brilliant games early in the season but as the pace quickened, Byfuglien became less and less effective.” Again, not good for someone who is expected to be one of the team’s top players, especially while pulling down one of the team’s top salaries. Winnipeg has missed the playoffs both years since moving from Atlanta to Manitoba, and may be looking for an overhaul. Byfuglien could have been a key trade chip- but that’s unlikely given the concerns that are going to come with dealing with a player who (allegedly) weighs 300 pounds. Until his weight is under control, Byfuglien is helping neither himself nor his team. Maybe we can give him a pass for this past season, as his weight gain could be, if one wanted to grasp at straws, attributed to the NHL lockout and the lack of access Byfuglien had to an NHL-level offseason conditioning program, which then spilled over into poor habits during the season. But that’s looking at it in the most positive, lets-give-him-a-second-chance light possible. After all, it’s hard to overlook the photo that emerged of Byfuglien last summer of him looking rather, uh, large. At the outset, the concept of a 302-pound NHL player is ridiculous. 302 pounds. Big Buff indeed.
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