Johnny Gaudreau's decision to join the Columbus Blue Jackets shocked NHL fans. While he wasn't expected to stick around with the Calgary Flames, the New Jersey Devils appeared to be the frontrunner for the young star.

However, he's off to Columbus after spending his first nine years in the league with the Flames. Johnny Hockey released a lengthy, heartfelt letter to his first NHL team shortly after he signed with the Blue Jackets.

“To my Flames Family,” Johnny Gaudreau wrote. “I hope you can understand my decision more after reading this letter. I appreciate how much you wanted me to stay and I hope you can see how hard this decision was for me.

Before I was a hockey player, I was a hockey fan. I totally get it. It’s hard not to see any free agency decision as a betrayal. All I would ask though is for people to hear me out, as a human being.”

He expressed his and his wife Meredith's love for Calgary, calling it a “hockey city” and a “special place with great people.”

Johnny Gaudreau also squashed rumors that had been going around. These claims accused him of using the Flames for leverage, and said that Johnny “always knew” he was leaving the organization.

“I’ve heard people say that, with the kind of money I’m making, and with how easy it is to hop on a plane, location shouldn’t be an issue,” he wrote. “And while I normally wouldn’t give that stuff the time of day, I feel like I owe it to Flames fans to be honest.”

Gaudreau said that he “didn't know for sure” what he wanted to do “up until the last hours of the last day.”

“Man, even after I turned down the eight-year deal from Calgary, I still thought about going back and trying to work on a seven-year deal to stay. It was all on the table for the entire process.”

Johnny Gaudreau ended the letter by thanking the Flames and the city of Calgary for their support over the last nine years.

“I hope the people of Calgary can remember me not only as a hockey player, but also as a good person with good values. Thank you for supporting me over these years, and for making my family a part of yours…Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”