That there was speculation that the Edmonton Oilers might part ways with Captain Canada, Ryan Smyth, was one thing.
That Oilers GM Kevin Lowe pulled the trigger, however, was quite another.
Lowe must have figured if he couldn't sign Smyth now he wouldn't be able to sign him in July. The Maple Leafs and Phoenix Coyotes, respectively, had to make that kind of decision when it came to Darcy Tucker and Shane Doan, and managed to sign both.
Still . . .this deal is going to go over in Edmonton like a lead balloon.
The new collective bargaining agreement, after all, was supposed to allow teams like the Oilers to keep their stars after losing them for years.
That this would happen on Mark Messier Day in Edmonton has to bring back all those memories of having and then losing players like Wayne Gretzky, Messier, Kevin Lowe, Doug Weight and Chris Pronger.
The New York Islanders, meanwhile, are suddenly back in the big leagues after acquiring Smyth, the epitome of a heart-and-soul player. Moreover, after picking up Marc-Andre Bergeron, Richard Zednik and now Smyth, the Isles are looking like a sure-fire playoff team after teetering on the edge all season.
Which makes the Smyth deal, which came down at the last minute, very bad news for the Maple Leafs.