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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  - Managing Editor | 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 - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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