WINNIPEG, Manitoba (LHP) _ With concerns about his rising weight, long-term health, and withdrawn demeanor, the staff of the Winnipeg Free Press Sports Department have pooled their money together to purchase a gym membership for Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.
The membership to Shapes Fitness Centre, located on Portage Avenue, will be casually brought up to Byfuglien later this week when the sportswriters invite him out for coffee and "just to hang out."
"Dustin could be such a great, dynamic player if he just lost some weight," said Free Press columnist Gary Lawless. "You hate to see a young guy like that be so unhealthy. I know it's because he doesn't eat right and doesn't exercise. It's such a shame."
"This is for his own good, so he can feel better about himself. He'll be glad we signed him up."
The Free Press had noticed Byfuglien getting heavier, but thought it was just a phase the 28-year-old blueliner was going through. They began dropping subtle hints several months ago, giving Byfuglien some workout gear and a set of free weights for Christmas. Byfugien politely accepted the gifts, but has not used them according to the writers.
"He didn't even take them out of the boxes," said Ed Tait. "The sweats we gave him still have the tags on them. And he uses the dumbbells to rest his feet when he plays those stupid Nintendo games."
With their early efforts failing and Byfuglien looking disinterested in hockey, his schoolwork and his friends this past season, the paper decided to take the initiative and sign up the two-time All Star at Shapes. The tricky part will be getting him to agree to go.
"We can't be too forceful," cautioned Lawless. "We have to be firm but loving and get him to understand he needs to do this for himself, not anyone else. Or, at the very least, so that some other team will want to trade for him."
The $99 "Shape-Up Special" includes a six-month membership to Shapes, 10 sessions with a personal trainer, one hot stone massage and 36 ounce travel water bottle.
If Byfuglien agrees to accept and use the gym membership, Lawless said the Free Press would document the weight-loss by posting hourly photos and measurements at its new sports blog, "Bye-Bye Buff's Baggage." Pull-out size charts of Byfuglien could be included with Free Press print editions.
The Free Press also announced that it has enrolled often outspoken Jets forward Evander Kane in a local Rover Scout Crew in the hopes that he can finally learn the principles of service and leadership and to "just get out of the house."
This is satire. Unfortunately for the Jets, the same can't be said for Gary Lawless.