Stuart's move to L.A. not a California dream

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:12 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Having played only a few months in Calgary after being traded west by the Boston Bruins a year ago, Brad Stuart's decision to leave the Flames as a free agent was more difficult than most would believe.

The Rocky Mountain House product gave "quite a bit" of consideration to returning before accepting a $3.5-million salary with the Los Angeles Kings.

"I loved playing in Calgary, for sure. It was a tough decision to not go back," said the soft-spoken defenceman, who didn't just grab the biggest paycheque thrown his way, although he said his options weren't as vast as you'd expect.

"There's other factors going into it, too -- family and all that stuff. It's just one of those things where I thought it would be a good fit."

Landing on the West Coast was a family decision. His wife grew up in California and they still own a home in San Jose, where Stuart played the first five years of his career.

Celebrating the birth of their first child a year ago this month, it was the best move they could make.

Turns out it may not be his last stop this year. With the Kings dead last in the Western Conference, the trade winds are blowing in Tinseltown.

Again due to become an unrestricted free agent in July, Stuart may be a candidate to be moved just as he was when extension talks ended with the Bruins before coming to Calgary.

"It's probably something that will come up. I haven't thought about it a lot yet. Now it's after January, so things can happen," said Stuart, whose defensive partner Rob Blake admitted to the Los Angeles Times the Kings will likely be sellers because of their dire situation in the standings.

"It's something that will probably be dealt with or talked about pretty soon," added Stuart. "The deadline will come up pretty fast."

Although the decision to join the Kings was the right one for his family, it hasn't been easy on the hockey side of his life.

Losing is never easy.

"It's tough. It's not a lot of fun being last place in the league," said Stuart.

"It's frustrating. But the most frustrating thing for us is we've played some good games and come up just short.

"It's almost more frustrating than just straight-out losing -- to be almost there but not quite, not being able to find that little bit extra."

Even Blake isn't untouchable when it comes to dealing vets. Unlike Stuart, the 38-year-old blueliner has a no-trade clause in his contract but told the Times that doesn't mean he can't leave town.

"If the team approaches you, that means they want to trade you, then you don't want to be part of that organization," he said Friday.

"That's how I've always felt about my career, and that hasn't changed, whether I have a no-trade clause or not."

With another potential free-agent deal on the horizon, Stuart isn't sure how he feels on the subject of being traded or signing elsewhere and uprooting for the fourth time in less than four years.

"It's something that I will explore more in the coming weeks and months."


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