Daniel Alfredsson bolted from the Ottawa Senators to sign with the Detroit Red Wings, sensing that was the best move he could make in his drive to win a championship before his career ends.
"It's all about trying to get the Stanley Cup," he said.
It is for Jarome Iginla, too.
Iginla signed a one-year deal with the Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins on Friday night. The longtime Calgary Flames and short-time Pittsburg Penguins forward will make $1.8 million guaranteed and can make up to $6 million with Boston.
The Senators, refusing to settle after losing Alfredsson, responded with a bold move to acquire Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks.
NHL teams made a big splash on the first day of free agency with a slew of signings and some trades.
Less than a year after the league's latest lockout, many teams spent big bucks on free agents despite knowing they will have to deal with a smaller salary cap next season.
Ilya Bryzgalov and Jaromir Jagr were among the notable names hoping teams whiffed on other free agents signed them soon.
The Columbus Blue Jackets were among the big spenders, signing Nathan Horton to a $37.1 million, seven-year contract.
Detroit, like Columbus, is heading to the Eastern Conference next season. The Red Wings made moves to try to extend their postseason streak to 23 and reach the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 2009.
Soon after adding Alfredsson, the Red Wings agreed to terms on a $24.5 million, five-year contract with 30-year-old center Stephen Weiss.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, coming off their first postseason appearance since 2004, also made a statement by signing New Jersey Devils forward David Clarkson to a $36.75 million, seven-year deal and keeping first-line center Tyler Bozak with a $21 million, five-year deal.
Tampa Bay, which cleared salary cap by buying out 33-year-old Vincent Lecavalier, agreed to a $25 million, five-year deal with 29-year-old center Valtteri Filppula to essentially replace its captain.
While the Red Wings were ready to lose Filppula, Ottawa wasn't expecting Alfredsson to tell the front office he wanted to play elsewhere.
"It was a devastating conversation, a disappointing one, hard to swallow," Senators general manager Bryan Murray acknowledged. "But I understand a veteran player that hasn't won and wants to win and sees a better opportunity."
The Senators, though, got younger and perhaps better up front by acquiring Ryan. Ottawa sent forwards Jakob Silfverbeg, Stefan Noesen and its first-round pick in next year's draft to the Ducks for the four-time 30-goal scorer. The 26-year-old Ryan has two years left on a five-year, $25 million contract.
Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren was one of the many NHL executives to talk to the Ducks about acquiring Ryan in recent years.
"We had conversations, but nothing that really ever made sense for us," Holmgren said. "I think Anaheim made a good deal. I think both teams made a good deal.