BROCKVILLE, Ont. (CP) - On the bright side, Alyn McCauley's likely to have more time this spring to spend with wife, Nicole, and young daughter, May.
But that's probably cold comfort for a proud NHLer who looked forward to building on his remarkable 2002 playoffs that thrilled Toronto Maple Leafs fans in the absence of injured captain Mats Sundin.
On Wednesday, the Leafs traded McCauley, 25, to the San Jose Sharks, along with prospect Brad Boyes and a first-round draft pick, in exchange for power forward Owen Nolan.
McCauley's cellphone rang constantly with calls from the media, family, friends and teammates.
"It was difficult last night when teammates called,'' McCauley said.
Although he felt pangs at leaving the only NHL club for which he's ever played, McCauley's pleased to be coveted by a rebuilding team.
"I'm happy, excited,'' McCauley said Thursday. "That they like me as a player enough to give up someone like Nolan ... I feel like I'm a piece of the puzzle for them.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to go to San Jose ... and take my game to the next level.''
The Gananoque, Ont., resident, who was born in nearby Brockville, is not conceding an early spring just yet, however.
"I know the math,'' he said. "The Sharks are still alive, though the playoffs are not all that likely.''
McCauley plans to move his young family to San Jose next season. But not having been there for five years, McCauley's memories of the Bay area are a little sketchy.
"I remember three things: the warm weather, the vineyards and it was fairly expensive to live there,'' McCauley said with a laugh.
The defensive centre, who had six goals and nine assists this season with the Leafs, doesn't know the date of his debut with his new team.
"They have contacted me, but we haven't talked in any great length,'' McCauley said. "There are documents not finished so I'm not sure when I'll get to play.
"I'm hoping to play Saturday (in Phoenix), but if not Saturday then it won't be until Tuesday (against St. Louis).''
McCauley had five goals, including two game-winners, and 10 assists in 20 playoff games while playing on a line with workhorse Gary Roberts in the 2002 playoffs.
He was plagued by concussion problems early in his career, which intensified in 1999 when he missed the final 21 regular-season games and the playoffs. But he played all 82 games last season.
McCauley is a former Ottawa 67's captain, who in 1996-97 recorded 112 points and was named the Canadian major junior player of the year.
He was drafted 79th overall in 1995 by the New Jersey Devils, but refused that team's offer. The Devils traded his rights in 1997, along with Jason Smith and Steve Sullivan, to Toronto for Doug Gilmour, defenceman Dave Ellett and a third-round draft pick.