TORONTO — Brandon Saad said he doesn’t have any regrets about his abrupt departure from the Blackhawks last summer, when Stan Bowman dealt him to Columbus rather than meet his agent’s salary demands. But after following up two Stanley Cup runs in three seasons in Chicago with a year of irrelevance for the last-place Blue Jackets, Saad offered some words of wisdom to his good friend Andrew Shaw as he entered restricted free agency this offseason.
“He’s someone I definitely talked to,” said Saad, who’s playing for Team North America — the 23-and-under young-guns squad — at the World Cup. “Anyone who plays [in Chicago] knows how well you’re treated, and obviously the winning speaks for itself. We started off playing there and that’s all you know. So it’s nice to hear other players around the league and hear how things are.”
Shaw wanted to stay, but ultimately was dealt to Montreal for a couple of draft picks. Montreal is obviously no hockey wasteland, but Shaw could soon learn the hard lesson that Saad did.
“The amount of success I had in that short period of time, a lot of players don’t get that,” Saad said. “To be able to be a part of that and then have the season I had last year — it’s definitely something you can’t take for granted.”
Saad did set career highs with 31 goals and 53 points in 78 games with Columbus. And he’s hoping for better results on the scoreboard this season.
“I feel a lot more comfortable going back this year knowing I’ve had that experience in Columbus,” Saad said. “It was a tough year hockey-wise last year with Columbus, but a lot of players go through that. You always want to be winning and be on the winning side of the game, but at the same time, I don’t have any regrets.”