Like his new Minnesota Wild teammate and fellow free-agent multi-millionaire Zach Parise, defenseman Ryan Suter has only known one franchise during his tenure in the NHL.
He was drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2003, played through the AHL system for a season and then skated with them from 2005-2012 for 542 regular-season games and 39 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Like Parise's now-former team the New Jersey Devils was for him before he signed with Minnesota, the Predators were in the final mix for Suter's services. He signed a 13-year, $98-million deal with the Wild on the morning of July 4; it was only that morning that Nashville was eliminated from the competition for his services.
Suter said making that decision was one of the most difficult of his life.
"I talked to David [Poile, the Predators GM] this morning. I called David. It was the toughest phone call I ever had to make in my life. It was so hard to make that to David. He's done so much for me, and it's such a first-class operation in Nashville. It starts with David," he said.
The next phone call was to Shea Weber, his defense partner throughout his NHL career.
"I talked with Shea after I talked with David, and told him I decided to move on from Nashville. He was happy for me. He understood. He said you have to do what's best for you, and wished nothing but the best of luck."
Suter said he'll miss his former NHL home —"Nashville is a great place to live, and Nashville has great fans" — but that Minnesota was a desirable option from the start of free agency.
It was as emotional a moment for Suter as it was for Poile, who wasn't pleased with Suter's choice. From Josh Cooper at The Tennessean:
"I think disappointment would not adequately describe the word I would like to choose," Poile said. "Disappointed and little surprised based on all the conversations we've had."
Poile said the Predators were not given last chance to match the Wild's reported offer of 13 years at $98 million. "We asked him what the reason was and he said it was for family reasons," Poile said.
Well, family and friends. Suter's wife is from Bloomington, Minn. But Parise, with whom he was in contact with throughout the season, was a player Suter wanted to play with, and Minnesota afforded the chance.
"Zach had a big part in my decision. And my family," he said.