It is the great paradox of pro sports.
Athletes form brotherly bonds with their teammates in order to become as tightly knit as possible -- and therefore as great a team as they can be -- and then players are moved around as stock-market commodities because, after all, it is a business.
That hit home yet again for Shea Weber when the Nashville Predators captain, like the rest of us, was stunned to hear that his young pal Seth Jones was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday in exchange for forward Ryan Johansen.
"I called him maybe 10 minutes after the news had come out," Weber said Thursday over the phone. "It was a tough phone call, to be honest with you. Not easy,” he said. "I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but he’s a good friend. He’s almost, I want to say, like a son, but I don’t want to feel like I’m too old yet. But, I mean, he was a kid that I tried to help as much as I could; I saw a lot of potential in him and obviously still do."
Weber is not one to let his guard down often, but it’s clear in this instance that while he completely understands that the acquisition of a top center like Johansen makes total sense, the immediate emotional response for the veteran blueliner was to the loss of a kid he had become so fond of.
"Part of me is really excited for him because I think that he’s got so much potential; the sky’s the limit now in Columbus, there’s nothing holding him back," Weber said.
In other words, there’s no Shea Weber blocking him on the right side in Columbus.
"Yep, that’s pretty much what I told him," Weber said, chuckling.
But was he stunned to see Jones dealt? Indeed, just as much as those of us on the outside looking in.
"We were all in shock as well. It's obviously a tough part of the business. Especially when it's something you don't expect or see coming," Weber said. "When it does happen, it catches you off guard."
I pushed forward to Weber the notion that, if for no other reason than the nine-year age gap between him and Jones, many of us on the outside viewed Jones as the more untouchable of the two.
"Yeah, a GM may tell you that someone is untouchable, but I think for the right price, guys will be moved,” Weber said. "You’re right, though, that's probably one of the guys you wouldn't have thought would be moved because he’s got so much potential. But if you want to get something good, you have to give up a good player and a good asset as well."
Weber gets it, and he's excited to get a player of Johansen's ilk in return. Weber is 30, and star Predators goalie Pekka Rinne is 33. The time is now.
Preds GM David Poile went over the trade with Weber on Thursday morning, but it was pretty self-explanatory. The Preds have been looking for a top center for almost two decades. They're deep on defense, so the move made sense.
"Yeah, that’s the flip side of it. You go through different emotions of the trade, you lose a friend and a good player, but you get a tremendous player and talent that's coming the other way," Weber said.
"Just coming into the locker room today and listening to the excitement and hearing the guys talk, you could tell that there's a little bit of a buzz for us right now. And we're definitely happy and thrilled to have him on our team."
Right off the hop, Johansen will be able to prove his worth in the Central Division during a Friday matchup against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. The Avs have Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon coming down the middle, and now the Preds can counter with a No. 1 center of their own in Johansen.
Matchups down the middle were part of the difference last spring when Nashville lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round of the playoffs. Having Johansen in the lineup to match up with Jonathan Toews should give the Preds a better chance.
"It definitely helps," Weber said. "We were so close last year to beating the eventual Stanley Cup champs. We've got hunger this year knowing we were close but still have work to do. We're hoping the addition of Ryan will help us get over that next hump."