Loyal: Dane Swan has farewelled several mates this year but wants to spend the rest of his career at Collingwood. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Working on the theory you kill a snake by cutting off its head, Dane Swan insists his coach Nathan Buckley had no problem with Collingwood's ''rat pack'' of players this year or else Swan would have been traded or have asked to leave.
With Heath Shaw to be traded, Dale Thomas to take up a free agency offer at Carlton, Alan Didak delisted and Ben Johnson retiring, Swan wondered when he arrived at the best-and-fairest award on Friday if he would be sitting at a table on his own.
The exodus of friends - forced and voluntary - has raised the idea that the new coach had lost patience with, or the respect of, this group of talented but roguish players.
Swan said the impression was inaccurate and if there had been any substance to it he would also be gone.
''Don't you cut the snake off at its head? I am supposed to be the leader and I am still here,'' he said. ''And [Ben] Johnson for all rights would still be here but he retired. The rat pack is just a name for a group of boys who are mates and unfortunately for me they are all gone.
''I certainly don't think he [Buckley] had fallen out with them, it was just time to go. I certainly don't hold any ill feeling towards 'Bucks' and the club and if I did I would have asked to be traded.
''But I didn't and I want to be here. I passionately believe the footy club is going in the right direction and that is with me here and unfortunately it is not with Dale and Heath, Dids and Johnno so it is what it is, we will move on and go into next year and try to go one better than what we did this year because we were certainly disappointed this year.''
Swan said the list changes, while disappointing for him because his friends were not at the club, were a reality of modern professional sport which he was comfortable with.
''I clearly would love them to stay, they are my best mates, I would absolutely love them to stay but I know it was time for them to go, I am not silly enough to expect them to stay nor do I expect the club to keep them around because they are my mates,'' Swan said after coming runner-up in the Copeland Trophy, Collingwood's best-and-fairest award.
''Footy is a business and the boys wanted to leave so [I have] no qualms, the boys who were retiring I think when your time's up your time's up and it is going to be my time soon enough, it is going to happen to every player.
''I would love to play for ever, I would love for Chris Tarrant to still be playing, I would like Ben Johnson to keep going but I am not silly enough to think we can all go through for another three or four years and retire all together.
''I would also love to get three or four of my mates who have never played footy in their life to come and play with me at Collingwood but I certainly don't think Bucks is going to draft them. I would love them to but we probably wouldn't win a game but jeez we would have a good time. So we will move on and I certainly have a good group of friends here, a good group of guys and we will have a crack next year and see how we go.''
Swan said that he wanted to remain at Collingwood for the remainder of his career and nothing that had occurred during the season or with the post-season list changes would alter that.
''I am disappointed they are not here but I am certainly not disappointed or angry at them for leaving, not one bit, I love them and that is the business,'' he said.
''They decided for whatever reason whether it was for money or they got stale here and [went] for better opportunity, they're my mates and always will be so I absolutely do not hold it against them for leaving.
''I am going to miss them, I see them every day and they are the guys I hang around with, they were the guys in my clique if you like, in the rat pack so to speak, so of course I am going to miss not seeing them every day.''
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said in his speech on Friday night that since the 2010 premiership a ''pervasive selfishness had crept into our club'' which was not uncommon at organisations or with individuals who had achieved success, but he said the club was determined to put a stop to it.
Buckley said he felt Collingwood had the list to be successful this season but they had beaten themselves with some of their behaviours on and off the field.
Swan said he agreed Collingwood had the talent on their list still to be contenders next year.
''Absolutely I think we have got the talent, I think we have got an exceptional list, I just don't think we put it together [in 2013], we did for games but now when it mattered … we have no one to blame but ourselves,'' Swan said.