Ryan Smyth, who left Edmonton all teary-eyed not long ago, has rejected contract offers in recent days from the club that acquired him at the NHL’s trade deadline, according to sources close to the star forward.


The sources say Smyth won’t re-sign with the New York Islanders and intends to explore the free-agent market in the off-season. They also say he’d like to renew discussions with the Oilers, who will increase their payroll by millions.


Other free-agent possibilities of interest to the Oilers: Mathieu Schneider, Tom Preising, Brad Stuart, Ray Whitney, Daniel Briere and Scott Gomez.


•While the Blue Jays wouldn’t mind Ron Villone, the Colorado Rockies appeal to him more. The left-handed pitcher was released on Sunday by the New York Yankees ... Sources say Sam Mitchell is irked by the refusal of the Raptors’ brass to offer him a coaching contract beyond this season. The sources also suspect Mitchell had something to do with floating recent reports that he could become coach of the Charlotte Bobcats next season. A more likely candidate for Charlotte, incidentally, is ex-Toronto coach Butch Carter... TSN/CTV has upgraded its football crew by hiring Danny McManus to replace the never-too-informative Leif Pettersen. McManus picked a good time to leave the Calgary Stampeders. His quarterbacking days clearly were over ... Manchester United is the most valuable team in world soccer and is worth $1.453- billion, according to Forbes Magazine. Man U has only the fourth-highest annual revenue at $310-million, but is ranked first overall in financial value because of “superior growth prospects,” which include its intriguing new enterprise in Canada. Access www.muss.cafor details ... Canadian Idol judge Jake Gold will be allowed to pitch in a senior fastball league in Toronto, after all. Gold was prohibited from pitching in the league last season because of his penchant for hitting batters with his rather fast pitches, but word was out that he was thinking of suing if the ban wasn’t lifted for the coming season.


•What do ex-Seinfeld star Michael Richards and ex-NBA star Michael Ray Richardson have in common besides similar names? They both say stupid things. Richards attacked blacks in a recent on-stage rant while Richardson singled out Jews in a recent interview.

“They’re real crafty,” Richardson said. “Listen, they are hated all over the world, so they’ve got to be crafty ... They got a lot of power in this world ... If you look in most professional sports, they’re run by Jewish people. If you look at a lot of most successful corporations and stuff, they’re run by Jewish ... They are some crafty people.”

Not surprisingly, Richardson has been fired from his CBA coaching job.