As hard as it was to see and hear his name in trade rumors throughout the past few weeks of June, former Wild defenseman Marco Scandella said he was mentally prepared to be dealt because General Manager Chuck Fletcher had been communicating with his agent.
"It was the first time in my career that I've gone through a trade, even since junior, so it was new to me and it's a little bit stressful," Scandella said Tuesday in his first interview since being traded to the Buffalo Sabres along with Jason Pominville for Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno on June 30.
"I figured something was likely. Just looking at the situation with the team, with the cap issues, I knew it was very possible, especially when I realized my name was in the mix of things. It wasn't easy. I got drafted by Minnesota, I love the guys, I love the city. I've always felt like it's been a home for me. It doesn't even feel like a second home. It always felt like home.
"I'll always cherish the years I had in Minnesota and all the great friends and all the people I've met over the years. It's an incredible place to live and play hockey."
Scandella, drafted in the second round in 2008 and the second-longest tenured Wild player (seven years) until being traded, said he's looking forward to playing for Hall of Fame defenseman Phil Housley, the former South St. Paul star and the Sabres' new head coach.
"Look at what he's done with Nashville's D corps," Scandella said. "He was an All-Star defenseman, and that he believes in me gives me a lot of pride. I think we're going to work really well together. I know I'm going to learn a lot off of him. I think he has a lot to teach. I'm all ears and I'm super excited about the new challenge."
Scandella will visit Buffalo for the first time later this month to look for a place to live and to see team doctors after having offseason hip surgery. He's also having dinner with Pominville, the former Sabres captain, this week.
"I know Pommer's always loved it there," Scandella said. "Since I got traded, he's been texting me and telling me, 'You're going to love it. Don't worry. Everyone who goes there and plays there always loves it.' "
Scandella said he's only looking at this experience as a positive.
"I understand why the trade happened," said Scandella, 27. "It's not like Minnesota went, 'We don't want him anymore.' Chuck's done a great job of drafting, and once a team gets to that level and good players have to get re-signed [like Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter and next year Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba], no matter what, you're going to lose guys. It's a great problem to have. It just so happens that I was the one that was pushed out of Minnesota, but it's all positive. There's no animosity. I've always respected Chuck, Bruce [coach Boudreau], and I had a great time in Minnesota. I'm going to miss it. I really am.
"But you know what, it's just a new chapter in my life. You can't dwell on things. The challenge is really exciting. I'm at an age where I feel like I'm really ready for a new challenge like this."