But he doesn't begrudge his buddy's decision to leave Minnesota and sign with Baltimore. It's the business side of the NFL, of course, one that Hutchinson himself experienced to the fullest with his own departure from Seattle three years ago. And as the Vikings' new union rep, Hutchinson is more attuned to that side of the game than ever.
The All-Pro left guard is replacing safety Darren Sharper, now a free agent, as the team's lead voice regarding NFL Players Association issues.
Hutchinson was scheduled to be in Hawaii this weekend for the election of the union's next executive director. He's been busy studying the four candidates, including two former players and two lawyers, in advance of the chance to hear firsthand arguments from each one before the landmark vote that's set for Sunday.
This is a critical time for the NFLPA, with looming collective bargaining talks with the owners. Benefits for retired players have come to the forefront as a big issue, and there's rank-and-file support for an NBA-style salary slotting system for rookies to keep those first-round signing bonuses from continuing to balloon.
But the current recession has exacerbated the uncertainty of future revenue streams for the league -- particularly the almighty TV money -- as both sides prepare to fight for their share. Neither owners nor players will be willing to be bullied around by the other.
"It's bigger than just signing bonuses and length of contacts and restructuring," Hutchinson said this week in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "There's a lot that's going to go into this decision. There's a lot that's going to be put on the shoulders of who is going to be the director."
There will be a lot on Hutchinson's shoulders this season, too.
Without Birk at center, John Sullivan is slated to step in as the starter in his second year. Right tackle is also unsettled, leaving Hutchinson as the unquestioned leader of this offensive line.
After five seasons with the Seahawks, he signed a seven-year contract worth as much as $49 million with Minnesota after Seattle placed the transition tag in early 2006 and made him a restricted free agent. The Seahawks were angry, both with him and his new team after the Vikings inserted a poison-pill provision in his deal that made it nearly impossible for them to match.
Hutchinson remembers that tumultuous month well. Three years later, he realized what Birk was going through when he chose to leave his hometown team for a new opportunity elsewhere.
"When a player makes a decision, it's not always because of money or other influences," Hutchinson said. "The player is sometimes looked down upon because he made a business decision, but it's always a two-way street and people forget about that. It was tough for me to see him go. There was no mystery he was one of my closest friends on the team. But I wish him the best."
Minnesota played at Seattle that first season after Hutchinson's switch. Baltimore is scheduled to visit the Metrodome sometime this fall.
"It was very awkward for me when we went back," Hutchinson said. "I left on a little different terms than Matt left on. It was pretty hostile for me there, but I think these people here in Minnesota really respect Matt and will do nothing but give him a warm welcome."
For Birk, though, it's sure to be a strange return.
"He could probably get dressed and come out of the locker room blindfolded and walk to the sideline," Hutchinson said. "It's going to be different for him, that's for sure."