As the expression goes, don’t go looking for love, let love find you.
The same could apply to the Stanley Cup – just ask LA Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi.
It's not worth mentioning all the players who, as unrestricted free agents, have sought out a newly championed team, or a team speculated to be on the verge of a championship, to sell their services to. The scroll of names would rival that of Santa Claus' Naughty or Nice list.
A much more exclusive group, however, would be the players who have left Stanley Cup-winning teams, hometown discounts, and proven formulas in search of unfamiliar, diamond-in-the-rough-type situations.
Among this short list is Scuderi, who joined the Kings as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2009, just after winning his first Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I thought they had a great nucleus of core players, some talent and good skill. They also had some good veterans,” said Scuderi of the Kings. “I thought this team had the best chance to turn it around the quickest.”
This foresight by Scuderi is quite impressive considering, at the time, the Kings, in their 42-year history, had never won a Stanley Cup, only made it to the Final once, and hadn't even made the playoffs in eight seasons.
“The biggest thing was that I’d just come off a Stanley Cup-winning team and I didn’t want to play for a team that was going to be at the bottom of the standings in any of the years I signed the deal,” explained the eight-year NHL veteran.
Aside from what he saw on the ice, location was also a factor for Scuderi, who was making a huge life decision not only for himself, but his wife, Courtney, and their two kids at the time.
“To not know where you’re going to be, to not know where you’re going to go and to know that you have to drag your family with you is a little bit scary,” admitted Scuderi, who became a father for the third time this past December.
Luckily for Scuderi, he was able to call upon the experience of friends who had previously played in Los Angeles to use as a reference.
“Everyone had nothing but good things to say. It’s a little strange being from the East Coast to come out this far, but I didn’t hear one bad word about it, I heard nothing but great things, and those things have been 100 percent correct,” said Scuderi, who rented former Kings head coach Marc Crawford’s house upon first arriving in Los Angeles.
After the initial six to seven month ‘breaking in period,’ as Scuderi refers to it, the Scuderis have settled into their new environment nicely, getting their kids into activities and meeting other parents, as would happen with any other family who had to relocate for one parent’s occupational needs.
“It was tough – I don’t think there’s ever been a guy that has wanted to leave a championship team, but it’s part of the business, it’s part of the life we’re in, and it happens,” Scuderi stated.
As hard as it must have been for Scuderi to leave Pittsburgh, imagine this: three years later, not only is he and his family happy and thriving in Los Angeles, but the only big decision the man who chose to blaze a path instead of follow one will have to make this summer is where to take the Stanley Cup on his personal day with the trophy.
Who says you don’t get second chances?