More to con­sider than just big pay­checks

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

Kevin Shat­tenkirk Joe Thorn­ton Brian Camp­bell Patrick Sharp

NEW YORK — Kevin Shat­tenkirk could’ve got­ten more money but took less to join the New York Rangers.

Joe Thorn­ton could’ve got­ten a mul­ti­year deal from an­other team, but wanted to stay with the San Jose Sharks.

Brian Camp­bell and Patrick Sharp could’ve got­ten more money the past two sum­mers but took the Chicago dis­count to re­turn the Black­hawks.

The NHL is chart­ing a new course, with top play­ers for­go­ing longer, big-money con­tracts to pick their pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion, a trend that has added a new wrin­kle to free agency.

“It’s their op­por­tu­nity to go where they want to go and some­times you might have to take a lit­tle bit less money to get there,” said Dal­las Stars gen­eral man­ager Jim Nill.

“Do you want to go to a good team? Is it a city you want to go to? Is it where your fam­ily wants to be? It’s play­ers find­ing the right fit for where they want to be and hav­ing the money that they can live with.”

Shat­tenkirk is not ex­actly LeBron James, but the na­tive of New Rochelle, New York, filled that role last Satur­day when he turned down of­fers of seven years and more than $30 mil­lion to sign with the Rangers for $26.6 mil­lion over four years.

The 28-year-old de­fense­man felt like it may be his only op­por­tu­nity to “ful­fill a life­long dream” and wants to help pull off what LeBron did in Cleve­land.

“No mat­ter where you go you’re try­ing to win your team a Stan­ley Cup,” Shat­tenkirk said. “There’s no bet­ter place to try to do it for me than in New York.”

Rangers GM Jeff Gor­ton praised Shat­tenkirk for leav- ing money and years on the ta­ble, and even New Jer­sey Devils GM Ray Shero, who made a strong push to sign the top free agent avail­able, gave him credit for sign­ing in New York be­cause it was “where he wanted to be.”

The NHL’s hard salary cap and play­ers re-sign­ing to so many long-term deals means su­perteams like in the NBA won’t hap­pen. But where and who mat­ters more to hockey play­ers than sim­ply how much and how long.

Thorn­ton had 16 teams reach out to sign him at age 38 but he opted for $8 mil­lion for one year be­cause he wanted to stay in San Jose.

“It was nice get­ting courted by all these teams, and I felt bad say­ing, ‘Hey I’m go­ing back to San Jose,’ but that’s where my heart is and that’s where I’m happy,” he said.

Like­wise, Sharp couldn’t pass up re­turn­ing to Chicago where he was part of three Stan­ley Cup teams, even if his con­tract is worth just $850,000.

Sharp said he was “com­ing back to make some more great mem­o­ries and try to win an­other Stan­ley Cup.”

Justin Wil­liams and his wife bought a house near Raleigh, North Carolina, be­fore sign­ing a $9 mil­lion, two-year deal to go back to the Hur­ri­canes. Ryan Miller called it “pretty ideal” to sign a $4 mil­lion, twoyear con­tract in Ana­heim, close to where ac­tress wife Noureen DeWulf needs to be.

Fa­mil­iar­ity with Nashville and coach Peter Lavi­o­lette led Scott Hart­nell to re­turn to the Preda­tors on a $1 mil­lion, oneyear deal, af­ter play­ing his first six NHL sea­sons with them.

“Ab­so­lutely love com­ing back to Nashville,” Hart­nell said.

That kind of nat­u­ral ex­cite­ment doesn’t hap­pen ev­ery­where.

Just ask the NBA.

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