Programming note: Sharks-Avalanche coverage gets underway tonight at 5:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
DENVER – Brad Stuart didn’t want to accept a reduced role with the San Jose Sharks, which is the biggest reason he’s now wearing a Colorado Avalanche sweater.
The Sharks told the veteran defenseman they would be trending towards a younger team, and Stuart wasn’t guaranteed to be in the lineup on a nightly basis, like he is now with the Avalanche.
“It’s not a secret that the Sharks wanted to make a lot of changes – maybe not as many as they would have liked,” Stuart said on Tuesday morning from his new dressing room at Pepsi Center.
“I kind of just was told that my role might be diminished with them wanting to play younger guys. At that point we started trying to work something out, and this seemed like a real good fit. Colorado was interested, so it’s been a good opportunity for myself. It’s a good group of guys here and I’ve been pretty happy since I got here.”
Stuart has played in all nine of Colorado’s games, going scoreless with a -2 rating. The 34-year-old, who has averaged 20 minutes and 34 seconds a night, is likely to be paired with Tyson Barrie when the Avs host the Sharks in the first of two games between the clubs this season.
[IN THE CREASE: Sharks make only visit to Colorado]
Stuart has always been an honest and candid guy. When asked about the Sharks’ strange offseason, in which management painted a distressed dressing room as part of the reason the club lost in historic fashion to Los Angeles in the first round, Stuart admitted to being puzzled.
“I was a little confused by some of the comments that I had heard. I didn’t feel like there was a rift in the room or anything,” he said. “If there was, I was blind to it.”
Still, in hindsight, Stuart said that a clearing of the air when things started to take a turn for the worse in that series might have helped prevent the four straight decisive losses to the Kings.
“It was a situation where we all look back and wish that maybe we should have, as a group, just had a huge heart-to-heart meeting or something in that series. That’s the one thing I think all of us kind of wish would have happened, and it didn’t. Not to say that’s why we lost.
“Other than that, honestly I can’t say that I felt like there was anything wrong in there. I was a little surprised when I heard some of those things, but you don’t always know what’s going on between certain guys. Maybe that was the case.”
That’s all in the past for him now, though, and a two-year, $7.2 million contract extension signed with Colorado before the season means he should be in his new home for the next several seasons.
“Things have worked out good,” he said. “This is a great city, a great area, and I like the team.”