For Ray Whitney, leaving the Canes for the Phoenix Coyotes was a financial decision, pure and simple
The Coyotes offered the veteran winger a two-year deal for $3 million a year. The Canes couldn't come close to matching it and Whitney, an unrestricted free agent, is headed to the Western Conference.
Not that he won't miss the Hurricanes, who he helped win the Stanley Cup in 2006, and Raleigh.
"I'm excited to be going to a team that had a tremendous year last season and a team that's on the rise," he said today. "But I'm not sure it's fully hit me yet that I'm leaving.
"It's sad to leave Raleigh. It has been a great five years and I enjoyed all of it. I wish something could have been done to keep me here, but this was a deal that other teams couldn't do."
Including the Hurricanes. Whitney did not say what the Canes offered but it was believed to be a one-year deal at considerably less than the $3.55 million he made last year.
In recent weeks, general manager Jim Rutherford had said the two sides were far apart financially but added he was "leaving the door open" to a Whitney return. But it was not to be.
"I'm not mad," Whitney said of the outcome. "I'm disappointed. I think us not making the playoffs last season changed things, so we all have ourselves to blame in a way.
"I'm not mad at all. I have the utmost respect for Jim and understand the situation he's in. I was hoping he could get it done but he couldn't. With the money situation they have, I did not fit into their plans."
Winning the Cup will always be a career highlight, Whitney said. The friendships he built with his teammates, he said, will always be cherished. And the five years, he said, was his longest stint with any NHL team.
"I felt entrenched in the organization," he said. "I felt my career would come to an end here and then I would move into management with the team. That's not to say that (front-office job) won't still happen one day.
"It's a sad day for my family. My kids are sad to be leaving their friends. But it's part of the business."
(Be sure to check out this N&O photo gallery on Whitney's career with the Canes.)