Johnny Gaudreau took the hockey world by surprise when the free agent market opened on July 13 when he decided to join the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the forward came close to accepting the offer. another team: the New Jersey Devils.
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The most coveted free agent of the offseason was surprised by the turn of events, he who believed he was receiving more interest from several teams, but a late call from the Blue Jackets, around 4 p.m. changed the game.
"To be honest, I don't think I want to go through that again. It was a very stressful day, mentioned Gaudreau, Tuesday, passing through the podcast "Spittin' Chiclets". I said to myself something like: "Great, the free agent market, this team is going to want me, this team is going to want me too, I'm going to get a call from this one, then another one of these" , but it wasn't that at all.
"I then said to myself: 'but what is going on?' I don't know if it's because of the wage bill which has remained stable or if it was just a more difficult situation for certain teams, but I had talks with only two or three formations. I'm very grateful that Columbus called at this late hour in the afternoon because I was trying to come to an agreement with the Devils and suddenly Columbus called and I was like, 'this is where I want go". And my agent completed the transaction and it was great.”
Gaudreau finally signed on the bottom of a seven-year contract, worth $68.25 million, after finishing the best campaign of his career, with 115 points in 82 games, in addition to maintaining an impressive differential of 64. He will thus have the task of straightening the boat for the Blue Jackets, who have not reached the playoffs since the 2019-2020 season.
Get closer to home
A native of Salem, New Jersey, Gaudreau reiterated that he based part of his decision on his desire to be closer to his family home.
By opting for the Nationwide Arena, Gaudreau is certainly closer to home than when he played in Alberta, but he is still almost eight hours by car from home. He also wanted to maintain a certain distance at this level to take care of his own family.
"I always said I wanted to play closer to home, but that was just far enough to say that I won't be bombarded with friends and family continuously, like there's a policy. open door, where you can enter whenever you want, because that's a bit like what it looks like in my part of the country, added the 28-year-old athlete. If it looked like this all year, the situation could have degenerated at times.
“It’s far enough for my wife and I to do our little family stuff. We are expecting our first child so it is just close enough for them to visit whenever they want. They can come when they want, but we can also do our family stuff when we want.