For many in the hockey world, Dustin Byfuglien’s legal troubles were shocking in more ways than one. Joe couldn’t help but poke fun at Byfuglien’s stunning weight of 286 lbs., calling him “The Jumbo Jet.” (May I also submit a far less creative nickname of “really Big Byuglien”?) Others might be surprised that there’s such thing as a boating while intoxicated (BWI) charge.
All snarkiness aside, the situation might provide some legitimate problems beyond possibly embarrassing Byfuglien into consulting Gary Roberts for dieting tips. The most recent reports indicate that it’s still unclear if Byuglien will actually be charged with a BWI; Labor Day will complicate matters and reportedly delay that decision until at least Tuesday, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
There’s also the chance that the U.S.-born hybrid defenseman might have trouble crossing the Canadian border (and no, that’s not a joke about his weight) in the future. The Winnipeg Free Press details that while he isn’t currently under any type of bail restriction, that situation could get a little bit murky.
Lucy Perillo, who operates Canada Border Crossing Services in Winnipeg — a company that works with offenders on both sides of the border to assist in travel — said it’s possible Byfuglien could be refused entry into Canada based simply on pending criminal charges such as third-degree boating while intoxicated and the refusal of a blood or urine test. He would also be obligated to disclose the fact he’d been arrested and fingerprinted.
“He’s technically not inadmissible into Canada, because he hasn’t been found guilty of anything. But they do have the right to refuse. Typically, though, Canadian officials at the Emerson border are very fair, as are those at the Winnipeg airport,” Perillo told The Winnipeg Free Press.
Perillo said Byfuglien’s life would become much more complicated if he was ultimately convicted. In Minnesota, he could face up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and a yearlong driving suspension. He would then have to apply in writing to the Canadian government for a temporary resident permit to enter the country. If granted, the order would expire after one year.
Byfuglien would have to apply for five consecutive years before he could attempt to obtain a lifetime pass, said Perillo.
It doesn’t necessarily stop there, either, because Perillo said that there’s “never a guarantee” that Byfuglien would get a lifetime pass. The report also reveals that Manitoba upholds any driver’s license suspensions that happen in the United States, so if Byfuglien is found guilty, he’d have to find someone to drive him to games (and hopefully not to buffets).
Depending upon how the results shake out, NHL might also determine that he’ll need to seek help with the NHLPA’s Substance Abuse and Behavioural Health Program. The Winnipeg Jets have said that they’re “still gathering information at this time” so we’ll have to wait and see if Byfuglien faces any consequences beyond the courtroom.
All joking aside, this is a serious headache for Byfuglien and potentially his team as well. Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky opines that the incident shouldn’t be a laughing matter in light of recent player deaths. The hope is that Byfuglien learns from this embarrassing incident and becomes much more careful, whether he deals with some legal headaches or just gets a slap on the wrist.