Brad Stuart: 'Tough decision' on future as free agency looms

So it has been difficult for Stuart being away from his family for long stretches, flying to the West Coast and back during breaks in the schedule.

“It is going to be a tough decision,” Stuart said. “It’s not going to be all based on hockey and what I want for my career. It’s going to be a little bit (about) family, which is important. Those are things I still have to kind of sort out, try to figure out what’s going to be best for everyone.”

Stuart, 32, is in the final year of a four-year, $15 million contract.

He has been a valuable top-four defenseman since the team acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings on the day of the trading deadline in 2008 for second- and fourth-round draft picks. He plays physical, blocks shots, kills penalties and has been strong defensively, paired with Niklas Kronwall during most of his time in Detroit.

“I’ve loved playing here, loved everything about being here, so that’s not a problem,” Stuart said. “It’s just that I have a difficult situation I have to deal with, with the living arrangements. It’s something I have to figure out in the next few months.”

He added, “I’m sure in the next few weeks I’ll probably chat with Ken (general manager Holland) a little bit about it, but that’s really as far as it’s gone.”

Stuart didn’t sign his current contract with the Red Wings until just hours before the start of free agency on July 1, 2008, so not knowing where he’ll be playing next season is not a distraction.

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