The Kings lost the first significant member of their Stanley Cup-winning team when free-agent defenseman Rob Scuderi went back to the Pittsburgh Penguins, signing a four-year deal worth $13.5 million.
His move came within the first hour of the opening of NHL free agency on Friday. The average annual value of the contract is $3.375 million, according to the Penguins.
Pittsburgh was Scuderi's first NHL team, and he won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009, playing there five-plus seasons. He had been with the Kings for four seasons, not only a major asset on the blue line during their run to the Cup in 2012 but serving as a valuable mentor to the young defense corps.
"I think for me it was just the geography of the equation," Scuderi told the Canadian cable network TSN. "I'd like to be, at this stage of my career, a little closer to my home, to my parents and to my in-laws.
"It came down to a family decision."
Scuderi's management team said that in the end the decision was between two teams in the Eastern Conference. The Toronto Maple Leafs also made a hard pitch at the 34-year-old.
It would have been an odd twist had Scuderi landed with the Maple Leafs. The Kings, in trying to keep Scuderi and manage their salary-cap situation, received $500,000 in cap room from Toronto when the Maple Leafs acquired goalie Jonathan Bernier from the Kings in a deal late last month.
They used that to help make Scuderi an offer earlier this week.
That Scuderi wanted to move back East is not a surprise. He grew up on Long Island and his parents still live there, and he lives in the Boston area in the offseason.
"I really didn't know who would be interested," he said. "I wasn't going to leave Los Angeles to play for another team in the Western Conference. It wasn't a very long list. Pittsburgh wasn't even on it because I didn't think they would offer. When it came down to it and they offered, I was very intrigued by the possibility. I get to go to a place I'm familiar with."
Last season, Scuderi played in all 48 games with the Kings, recording 12 points and was a minus-six. His ice time per game averaged nearly 22 minutes. He has not missed a game dating back to Dec. 7, 2009, a streak of 264 consecutive regular-season contests.
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