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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 WSH 54 40 10 4 178 124 84
2 FLA 56 32 18 6 153 132 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 NYI 54 29 19 6 153 137 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 CAR 56 25 21 10 137 146 60
11 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 57 25 26 6 159 177 56
14 CBJ 57 23 28 6 144 175 52
15 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
16 TOR 54 20 25 9 127 151 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89