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Stuart is happy at home with Sharks

Family decision made off-season move easier for defenseman

Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 6:33 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - DetroitRedWings.com
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Stuart is happy at home with Sharks
Brad Stuart will play against his former Red Wings teammates since returning San Jose last summer. Stuart was the Sharks' first-round draft pick in 1998. (Photo by Bill Roose/Detroit Red Wings)

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Red Wings hate that Brad Stuart is no longer part of their team. But they’re happy that the 13-year NHL veteran is where he belongs.

“He’s all smiles and loving it,” said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who spoke with Stuart Thursday morning at HP Pavilion.

Stuart requested the trade to the Sharks to be close to his wife and young boys. A custody issue with her teenage daughter from a previous marriage prohibited Stuart’s wife from relocating to Michigan. Over the last few years, the Wings granted him permission to miss occasional practices so he could fly home to California – even if it was for a day – to visit his family.

“Not having to do that anymore has been huge,” Stuart said. “My kids have gotten used to having me around, which they weren’t at one point. It’s kind of sad, because I’d come in and they’d expect that you were going to leave. Now they expect me to be home all of the time, which is great. … They are at an age where they probably don’t even remember a lot of those times, which is good. Now it’s the way it should be.”

The Wings loss has certainly been the Sharks gain. Stuart has played in every game this season for the Sharks, producing three assists and a team-best plus-7 rating.

“We miss him,” Babcock said. “You’re always going to miss the player, but you miss him as a man much more. He was a great person and we appreciate what he did for us.”

Stuart said that it will be strange to face his former teammates when the Sharks host the Wings tonight. But he thinks it might be weirder when he returns to Joe Louis Arena for the first time with the Sharks on April 11.

“It should be fun too,” he said. “I have a lot of good memories of being part of that organization. I’ve moved on, but it’s still going to be a little bit weird to play against those guys.”

Besides winning the Stanley Cup in 2008, and playing in the 2009 finals, Stuart said he was fortunate to be a part of Wings’ teams that opened the 2009-10 season in Sweden and played in the 2009 Winter Classic in Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

“Just the fact that I got to be a part of a lot of unique opportunities,” Stuart said. “Being a part of that culture and learning a lot from guys like Lidstrom and Zetterberg and Chelios and Draper and all of those guys about how to win, and how to be a winner. All of those things were invaluable as far as my career goes.”

Brad Stuart
Defense - SJS
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 3
SOG: 20 | +/-: 7
But leaving Detroit wasn’t as easy as it seems.

“It was tough, but also worth it,” said Stuart, who had a career-best plus-16 last season. “As tough as it was to leave those guys, that organization, it’s just as easy to make the decision that I made for my family. One out-weighed the other and it’s been well worth it.”

After the Red Wings traded his rights to the Sharks, he signed a three-year contract worth $10.8 million to return to San Jose, where he began his NHL career in 1999.

While his four-plus seasons in Detroit provided a lifetime of memories, Stuart said that family eventually won out. Returning to northern California, coupled with the four-month lockout, has allowed him to finally be a full-time father to his two young sons, Jake and Logan.

“Being able to be a dad, to take my kids to hockey and soccer, to be there every single time has been awesome,” Stuart said. “I’ve definitely made the most of.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80