DETROIT – Sunday’s move by the Red Wings doesn’t guarantee anything for Brad Stuart. The veteran defenseman understands that, but now that his negotiating rights are held by the San Jose Sharks he’s closer to being reunited with his family for more than just the offseason.
But now, Stuart must work out a new contract with the Sharks if he’s to avoid hitting the open market once the free agency period begins on July 1.
“I’d like to. That’s the goal in making the trade was for that to happen,” said Stuart during Sunday afternoon’s teleconference. “We’ll work on it in the next three weeks or however long we’ve got. Try to work it out. If it doesn’t work, then I don’t know. I guess as far as right now, it’s a paper transaction. Nothing has changed until I actually sign the deal. We have some time to figure that out.”
Stuart also thanked the Red Wings, particularly general manager Ken Holland, for his help in facilitating the deal that sent a 2014 seventh-round conditional draft pick and forward Andrew Murray to Detroit.
“For the Wings to give me time to figure it out shows what a class organization they are,” Stuart said. “I owe them a lot.”
The Wings acquired Stuart from Los Angeles at the 2008 trade deadline. He made an immediate impact in helping Detroit win the Stanley Cup that spring, collecting seven points with a plus-15 rating in the playoffs.
For the most part, Stuart was paired with Niklas Kronwall most of the time during his four-plus seasons with the Wings. But getting the chance to practice and play on the same team with a legend like Nicklas Lidstrom was extra special, Stuart said.
“When you play around players like that every day is a chance to get better,” Stuart said. “I never saw him take practice off and you never saw that. It was a real good thing to be around. He is setting an example for the younger kids coming up. For me being a younger player he was someone to look up to in the way he was there every day, working every day.”
With the current schedule, Stuart could get home at least twice in a season when the Wings would head to the West Coast. However, over the last few seasons, the Wings were very accommodating in allowing the defenseman to fly home when the schedule permitted.
“I have great memories from my time there with the organization,” Stuart said. “Detroit was a great experience for me. I learned a lot from being around some of the best players in the game. I had a chance to play with Nick Lidstrom, who I consider one of the best defensemen ever. All those things made me a better player. The organization itself, was more than understanding of my family situation. They always gave me an opportunity to make things work. I have got to thank them for all those things they did for me and I became a better player there because of it.”
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