HE wanted to stay, but the Winnipeg Jets didn't have the right deal -- meaning a one-way contract -- for defenceman Mark Flood.
So it became official Monday that Flood has joined Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL for the 2012-13 season, signing a one-year contract.
Flood, 27, wouldn't specify the value of the deal. There's speculation it's worth more than $1 million. He would only say he'll be well-compensated, "as long as everything works out."
"That (a one-way contract) is what it came down to," Flood said. "It's what I wanted and I felt like I deserved it. But it didn't happen. That's fine. I understand the business side of it, too, and what they've got to do.
"I could have stayed on a two-way but I wanted a one-way deal. It definitely was (a tough decision). I didn't want to leave Winnipeg. There's no question about that. I loved it there. But at the end of the day, I had to make a decision whether to stay and try to battle it out or take an opportunity over there."
After signing prospect Paul Postma less than two weeks ago, the Jets have seven defenceman on one-way contracts worth $19.4 million for next season. They also have depth players Derek Meech and Zach Redmond on two-way contracts and many believe either could step into the lineup and contribute in the coming season.
Flood, used sparingly and in only 33 NHL games last season, generally as the team's seventh or eighth defenceman, clearly had no other tabled NHL offers to consider so he said he opted for a new experience.
"I've never been to Europe before so I don't really know how it'll go," he said. "It's a new experience. I'll try it out for one year and see what happens.
"I still want to play in the NHL. It's not like I'm going over there and packing it in. I know I'm not getting any younger but at the same time, I feel as a defenceman, I'm still coming into my prime as far as my game maturing."
Flood said he was grateful to the True North organization, which signed him to play with the AHL's Manitoba Moose in 2010-11.
"I was an American league player and Zinger (Jets assistant GM Craig Heisinger) picked me up and kind of revived my career," Flood said. "He gave me a chance to succeed and once he did, I felt I took it and ran with it. I don't regret anything. I love Winnipeg. Everything was very positive about my experience there the last two years."
His new home will be the city struck by last summer's tragedy of a plane crash that took the lives of all the team's players -- among them coach Brad McCrimmon and former Jets player Igor Korolev -- and numerous staff at the start of the KHL season.
"It's a unique situation," Flood said. "Going to Russia can be scary enough but to the team this happened to, I'm sure some people think I'm crazy. But everything is different. It'll be new for them and they're excited to put a team back on the ice and the city, from what I understand, kind of revolves around its hockey team, kind of similar to Winnipeg.
"I'm sure the fans will be very excited but going around to different cities, it'll be a different feeling, lots of tributes and stuff coming."