SUN Hockey Pool

Sharks coach 'shocked' by trade

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

San Jose pried Joe Thornton out of Boston, so you'd think head coach Ron Wilson's jaw would be the last to drop at the sight of Ryan Smyth leaving Edmonton.

But he almost fell out of his chair.

"I was shocked," he said yesterday. "I'm sure everybody in the league was shocked that happened. I've been paying attention to all the potential free agents, and I didn't think that would happen.

"But in the millennium NHL, business decisions have to be made, players become free agents a little bit earlier, and I think as a general manager, first and foremost, and as an organization, you have to protect yourself.

"You can't possibly allow a player like that to go for nothing. From a fan's point of view it's a hard decision to defend, but from an organizational point of view, you have to do what you think is best for the organization."

The Oilers are a vastly different team than the one that eliminated Wilson's Sharks last spring. Chris Pronger, Mike Peca, Jaroslav Spacek, Radek Dvorak, Georges Laraque, Dick Tarnstrom, Rem Murray, Todd Harvey, and now Ryan Smyth are gone.

He barely recognizes them, but has seen the trend before.

"It's kind of funny, when you look around," said Wilson. "But these things happen.

"I've been through it in Washington. You go to the Stanley Cup finals, you fall short, and the next year there's a dropoff."


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