Jacob Trouba’s decision against signing a long-term deal with the Winnipeg Jets was well-documented. Less so was his primary reason why.
Trouba revealed that his fiancee’s aspirations to become a doctor played a role in his desire to play in the United States. On Monday, he was traded to the New York Rangers .
On Tuesday, he repeated what he told the Winnipeg Sun. The 25-year-old Trouba says Kelly Tyson’s career is equally important.
“Everyone kinds of views me and I guess most athletes just as athletes, but there’s other goals in life that I have,” he said. “I want to be a husband and a father and all that stuff, and her career is important and she’s worked extremely hard. I want to see the best for her as much as she wants to see the best for me.”
Trouba, an offensive-minded defenceman, played the past six seasons with the Jets while Tyson went to school in Sydney, Australia, and South Florida.
He had high-profile protracted contract talks in 2016 before signing for two years and then a one-year deal that expired after this season.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff knew he’d probably have to trade Trouba when the two sides agreed there was no chance at a long-term contract. Teams around the league understood Trouba’s situation amid trade talks.
“He had some personal things that he wanted to see come to fruition,” Cheveldayoff said Monday after getting 23-year-old defenceman Neal Pionk and the 20th overall pick in the trade for Trouba. “And obviously with one year to unrestricted free agency, he had that prerogative moving forward.”
Word of the trade caught Pionk off guard, who told CBC News he was relaxing at home in Minneapolis, Minn. when he got the call.
“It’s a bit of a culture shock. I’ve never been through a trade before, so you’re feeling off a little bit,” he said. “I would say all of last night I was a little thrown off, but now that it’s settling in, I’m excited for the opportunity in Winnipeg.”
Pionk grew up in Hermantown, Minn., just outside of Duluth. Having grown up in a similar climate to Winnipeg’s will make the transition a little easier, he said.
“Of course, it is cold up in Duluth. So I don’t think I’ll have a problem adjusting to Winnipeg.”
Trouba still needs a new contract as a restricted free agent, and Rangers GM Jeff Gorton said he and agent Kurt Overhardt agreed to discuss that this week. Gorton said he has a ballpark idea of what it will take to sign Trouba to a lengthy contract.
Trouba has 179 points in 408 regular-season NHL games. Last season, the right-handed shooter had eight goals and 42 assists and averaged just under 23 minutes a game. He’ll likely see more playing time with the Rangers.
He didn’t want to commit to anything in the hours after the first trade of his professional career. But Trouba sounded open to the possibility of staying with the Rangers for a while.
“Everything’s definitely on the table,” he said. “I could see myself being in New York for a long time.”
Trouba didn’t have any trade protections, so Winnipeg could have traded him anywhere. But with the ability to hit the unrestricted free agent market a year from now, Trouba held considerable power over where he wanted to play.
It didn’t have to be New York, but it doesn’t hurt.
“New York obviously is a great place for her, great place for a lot of things,” Trouba said. “That was definitely important to me — both of us.”