The Red Wings on Sunday traded Stuart’s rights to the San Jose Sharks, the team that originally drafted him in 1998.
In exchange, the Wings get a conditional seventh-round pick and forward Andrew Murray. Both Stuart and Murray are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
Stuart, who played five seasons for the Wings after being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in February 2008, had said at the end of this past season that he wanted to be closer to his family, which remained in San Jose.
“I’ve been living here, my family’s been in California,” Stuart said after the Wings cleaned out their lockers. “I’ve got a stepdaughter that needs to finish high school so that’s how it is. There’s really no way to get around that. My boys are getting older now, they’re four and five, so it’s getting harder to be away from them.”
Stuart said that if it were simply a hockey decision, he would love to remain with the Wings. But being away from his family so much took its toll on him.
“Definitely the last four-plus years that I’ve been here have been great and I felt like I belonged here,” Stuart said. “If it’s all a hockey decision, I don’t want to leave but there’s other things to think about. Again, it’s a game, it’s a part of my life and it’ll be gone one day and I’ll be left with my family so that’s obviously going to be more important than the game of hockey.”
Now Stuart will have the chance to play at home, and Wings general manager Ken Holland will have another hole to fill on the blue line, following the retirement of captain Nick Lidstrom.