December 14, 2019

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Trade to Rangers caught Trouba by surprise

"I knew there were rumours and talks about it but I didn't really expect it to happen last night," Trouba said. (John Woods / Canadian Press files)</p>

"I knew there were rumours and talks about it but I didn't really expect it to happen last night," Trouba said. (John Woods / Canadian Press files)

Jacob Trouba wants to be a family man — just not in Winnipeg. Or Canada, for that matter.

The Michigan-born blue-liner, traded Monday night from the Jets to the New York Rangers, is engaged to a woman training to be a doctor, and the couple wants to build a life together south of the border.

His relationship with fiancée Kelly Tyson takes precedence over his eight-year connection with the Jets, who drafted him ninth overall in the 2012 NHL Draft and developed a heavy reliance on the 6-3, 202-pound defenceman during his six years in uniform (2013-19).

The Jets swapped Trouba to the Rangers for blue-liner Neil Pionk and the 20th overall selection in this year's draft, set for Vancouver this weekend. It's the very same selection Winnipeg sent to the Rangers, along with Brendan Lemieux, in exchange for centre Kevin Hayes at the trade deadline in late February.

Speaking Tuesday morning, Trouba said he harbours no ill will toward the Jets or the city, adding his desire to play in the U.S. was always more personal than business.

"Everyone kinds of views me and, I guess, most athletes just as athletes, but there's other goals in life that I have. I want to be a husband and a father and all that stuff, and her career is important and she's worked extremely hard to get where she is. I want to see the best for her as much as she wants to see the best for me," he said, during a conference call.

"We wanted to find a way that we could both be successful in our careers, living together and achieving other goals we have in life. There’s other places she could do it. Obviously, New York is a great place for her, a great place for a lot of things. That was definitely important to me, both of us."

News of the swap shocked Trouba, 25, despite rampant rumours around the hockey world in recent weeks that he was as good as gone.

His relationship with the Jets has been acrimonious, to say the least. He asked the Jets for a trade after his third season before inking a two-year bridge deal. Last summer, he went to arbitration and was granted a one-year deal at US$5.5 million.

A restricted free agent, he had no desire to re-sign with the Central Division squad despite putting up career numbers (8G, 42A) while playing all 82 games last season on Winnipeg’s top shutdown pairing.

"It was sure a surprise. I was cooking dinner and I got a phone call from (Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff). I knew there were rumours and talks about it but I didn't really expect it to happen last night," said Trouba.

"I just kind of enjoyed the night and I couldn't be happier to join the team and be a part of New York and the Rangers organization. It's a pretty special organization with the history and the city and everything that goes on there, so I couldn't be more excited."

Trouba, who has fired 42 goals and added 137 assists in 408 career regular-season games, said he expects to talk about a new contract with New York in the coming days.

He’s already spoken with a couple of former teammates, Lemieux and Hayes about life in the Big Apple, along with one of his best buddies, Brady Skjei, who patrols the Rangers' blue line.

And the vibe is all positive, he said.

"They’re building a winner. They treat their players first-class. I mean, it’s New York, so you’ve got a big stage and they expect a lot out of their team and we want to, ultimately, get to a Stanley Cup," he said. "I have more that I can achieve, another level of my game that I think I can get to. I still don't think I've shown everything yet."

Trouba said he'll miss playing partner Josh Morrissey, and remains grateful to the entire organization.

"He's a special player. He can do a lot of things that are underrated. He does things that make the game easier for people he's playing with. He's got all the talent in the world, and he's a very good person and teammate," Trouba said.

"I'll miss a lot of people. That was my life for six years. Some of my best friends are there," he said. "I did a lot of growing up in that city from my first year to where I am today. It's going to be something that's always a part of me. I'm thankful for it. It's a great organization. They treat their players extremely well and they're on a good path."

His favourite memory of being an NHLer in Winnipeg? Easy choice, he said.

"It would be that comeback game against Nashville in the (2018) playoffs," said Trouba, whose second-period goal evened Game 3 of their second-round series with the Predators 3-3 after the Jets were down 3-zip through 20 minutes. Winnipeg went on to a 7-4 triumph and eventually dispatched the Preds in seven games.

"That was a fun one to be a part of."

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

Read full biography

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History

Updated on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 1:52 PM CDT: Updated.

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