NEW YORK (AP) -``Captain Canada'' Ryan Smyth has found a new home with the Colorado Avalanche.
Late in a frenzied first day of free-agent signing, Smyth - the last remaining topflight forward left the New York Islanders on Sunday night for a return trip to the Western Conference.
Islanders general manager Garth Snow, who made retaining Smyth his top priority, got the bad news that Smyth was leaving Long Island shortly before 11 p.m. EDT from the forward's agent Don Meehan.
``It was obviously not what we wanted to hear, but I appreciated the call,'' Snow said. ``Don said we were right in it for Ryan's services until the very end and it was one of the hardest decisions he'd ever been a part of.''
The Islanders acquired Smyth from the Edmonton Oilers just minutes before the NHL trade deadline in February. New York gave up two former first-round picks plus this year's No. 1 selection to get him, but couldn't complete the big move by signing him to a long-term contract.
``Ryan decided it was best for him and his family to sign with Colorado,'' Snow said. ``The Avalanche are very fortunate to have him and we wish Ryan and his family the best. I said when I made the trade to acquire Ryan from Edmonton that it's a deal I'd do over and over again.
``My feelings on the move to bring Ryan Smyth to Long Island have not changed,'' he said.
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