Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen were stunned.
The two Maple Leafs had just been informed that they had been dealt earlier today to the St. Louis Blues for forward Lee Stempniak, a transaction that had not quite sunk in yet.
"My first reaction was that I was in shock," Colaiacovo said as he left the Air Canada Centre this afternoon. "The first thing that went through my head was how great I have had it here in Toronto ... I love Toronto. I would consider coming back again one day."
News of the deal came less than an hour after Colaiacovo told reporters he would not get into a war of words with coach Ron Wilson, who last week suggested the young defenceman's injury-plagued history came from his less-than-stellar physical conditioning.
While possessing fine offensive skills, Colaiacovo could never escape the injury bug and never played more than 48 games in a single NHL season. He only resumed skating this morning after taking a puck off the ankle last week.
Steen, meanwhile, was an enigma, showing flashes of offensive flair but never doing it consistently. He managed just 50 goals in 252 career games as a Leaf.
"It came out of the blue," Steen said. "It‚s tough because this organization has been very good to me. But at the same time it is exciting."
St. Louis seems to be the place where former Maple Leaf first-rounders go to flourish. Colaiacovo (17th overall, 2001) and Steen (24th overall, 2002) now join Brad Boyes (24th overall, 2000) as one-time high Toronto draft picks playing in the Gateway City.
"I am looking forward to the opportunity and playing with one of my best friends, Brad Boyes," Colaiacovo said.
Boyes and Colaiacovo were teammates for three seasons with the Ontario Hockey League's Erie Otters.
"I think it's a good move for him, being out of the spotlight of his home town," said Boyes who, like Colaiacovo, is from the Toronto area. "I remember thinking that in the summer."
Blues president John Davidson said talks heated up the past few days. According to Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher, the two sides have been chatting for about a month.
"I think with the two guys we are getting, they needed a fresh start," Davidson said.
Stempniak, 25, is a right winger who was selected 148th overall in the 2003 entry draft. His best season came in 2006-07 when he scored 27 goals and added 25 assists.
"He's a goal scorer, but he's good defensively too," Boyes said.
All three players are expected to undergo physicals with their new teams tomorrow before the deal is made official.