Sunday, December 21, 2008

Go Screw Yourself, Princess!

Eventually we'll stop talking about Mats. Very soon, I expect. For now, I just wanted to add my response to DGB's last post. This was, in fact, going to be just a comment to his post, but I didn't want the length of my response to overcrowd his work so I've posted it over here.

I think it's interesting that Dimanno of all people has scooped 2 exclusives with Sundin since the Festival Cup in September, which she also covered.

Each time her contention was that Sundin's pride was hurt and needed healing but was still keeping Toronto open as an option and that the Leafs weren't showing enough interest in bringing him back (or in generating a postive response to his return):

Yet his interest is clearly perked when informed about one well-connected hockey journalist who reported yesterday that coach Ron Wilson believes Sundin will return as a Leaf at some point this year.

"Wilson said that? But did he say he wants me to?''

Here's another quote from Sundin that explains why he didn't select the Leafs, from way back in May (not that you can believe anything he might say beyond a 3 month limit):

"First of all, for me to come back to Toronto, Toronto has got to show they really want me to come back, too," Sundin later added. "So we'll see what happens." 

Cliff might have made a pitch for Sundin, but he never got the green light. By the time Mats had sorted things out, the "new guy" was in town and Burke has no loyalty to Sundin. Door closed.

Finally, go screw yourself, princess is absolutely fair, because that's exactly what happened. Mats screwed with Mats. His indecision and melancholy has made him appear passive and weak. His inability to rescue the team from disaster last year is evidence of a lack of assertiveness and character. Almost nothing is left of the team that he once led, and for good reason. Now I have nothing against a Captain wanting to go down with his ship in a vain attempt at turning it around and getting it back on course, but when the ship sinks to the bottom of the ocean, I also have no problem with the owner of the boat company telling the Captain "go screw yourself if you think you're gonna get a raise".

Mats screwed Mats when he alone decided that the Leafs still had a chance to make the playoffs and then led the team to a colossal train wreck at season's end. Rather then assume responsibility, Sundin then became a silent recluse while those who served under his leadership, Maurice, Tucker, Wellwood, McCabe, one by one were made to walk the plank and thrown overboard. The Captain, who nobly went down with the ship, then told us he wasn't coming back unless we convinced him otherwise.

I think the appropriate response from Leaf management would've been to say, "Mats we really appreciate everything you've done for us, and truly respect your talents as a hockey player and your class as a person, but, seriously, this time, go screw yourself, princess".

17 comments:

Down Goes Brown said...

Great post.

Just to be clear, my "go screw yourself" comment was based on a scenario where Sundin thinks he was mistreated somehow by the Leafs at the deadline. As I made clear, I don't necessarily buy into that scenario, even though the media seems to want to paint that picture.

If Mats was upset that the Leafs even talked about trading him, if he wanted Fletcher to pretend the team was going to make the playoffs and didn't need to be blown up, if he thinks it's unfair for the media report what was blatantly obvious to anyone with two brain cells... then yes, he's a think-skinned diva who lives in a fantasy land just like so many other pro athletes.

But I still really hope he's not.

general borschevsky said...

Cheers, DGB!

Still not entirely certain what happened last year but Mats was previously known for his poise and composure. But as the year went on, he would seemingly answer every question with an even heavier sigh, a downcast expression, or shake is head and admit an inability to explain yet another loss. There were problems with team chemistry right from the get-go last year and neither Sundin nor Maurice were able to deal with it directly, and eventually it got to Sundin and wore him down.

Point is: I don't think Sundin was always so sensitive, but last season was different for some reason. Hopefully his heart is all mended and he can go back to being the confident, determined Sundin that the fans loved and not the fragile, unsure Hamlet that annoyed the hell out of everybody.

Drake said...

Nice read once again General!

I liked your "walk the plank" analogy. Nice touch!

I can imagine Kyle Wellwood floats pretty good though...

eyebleaf said...

His inability to rescue the team from disaster last year is evidence of a lack of assertiveness and character.

Jesus Christ.

I've read a lot of garbage when it comes to Sundin, but that might have just topped them all.

Absolutely un-fucking believable.

general borschevsky said...

Thanks Drake for the kind words.

I can imagine Kyle Wellwood floats pretty good

...hilarious.

Hey eyebleaf! I'm not saying Mats didn't show enough heart, far from it. Just that his leadership last year was ineffective in preventing this team's total collapse. I don't think he was the cause of the problems, but he didn't have the strength of character to fix it either. He tried, but the team didn't respond. Instead, towards the very end, things got considerably worse. As the Captain, there needs to be some responsibility assumed there - not complete responsibilty, but some.

Finally, - I've read a lot of garbage when it comes to Sundin, but that might have just topped them all.

Whoooh! We're #1! Seriously, though, considering the amount of print that's been devoted to the man, that's a pretty incredible statement. You must have missed Dimmano's coverage of the Festival Cup. Now that was garbage.

JD. said...

Why do I get the feeling Mats and Wellwood are going to start wearing NWO shirts....

eyebleaf said...

General, there have been many a bogus claim about Sundin, and what I meant was that your statement: (His inability to rescue the team from disaster last year is evidence of a lack of assertiveness and character.) might have been the looniest of them all.

You know damn well that the Leafs team of last season wasn't a playoff team. Period, full stop. They couldn't kill a God damn penalty, they were near the bottom in goals against and save percentage. Yet, of course, you conveniently blame Sundin. It's ridiculous. And I know you know that too.

Yes, a Captain does need to take responsibility, but to say that Sundin's character was the reason the Leafs were unable to make the playoffs or succeed is complete and utter bullshit.

I respect you, I enjoy your blog, I read your blog, I link to your blog, but that doesn't mean I will agree with everything written here. That goes for any blog. I'm just calling it as I see it. I feel like you're smarter than a statement like that. You're better than a statement like that. I expect that type of mud-slinging from DGB.

blurr1974 said...

eyebleaf - Mats does not share your sentiment regarding last years team. his reasoning for not waiving the NTC was that he truly believed they were a playoff caliber team. I didn't think that when the season began, and was certainly convinced of it by the time JFJ was mercifully shown the door.

To me, that's not him taking responsibility for his teams play...

General, brilliant as always. Thanks for making this a post. We're on the same wavelength re: Mats...

Down Goes Brown said...

eyebleaf - Mats does not share your sentiment regarding last years team. his reasoning for not waiving the NTC was that he truly believed they were a playoff caliber team.

And that's the corner Mats has painted himself into. If the Leafs were a playoff-calibre team, then as the leader he gets a big chunk of the blame for them falling short. And if they weren't (which I think we'd all agree), then his claims about not waiving because they were contenders sound ridiculous.

None of us know the guy so none of us know his real character. We can only guess at it from the evidence, and at least some of it isn't very good these days.

general borschevsky said...

@JD: Thanks for dropping by. I'm wondering what are the chances of a third ex-Leaf coming to Vancouver? Could McCabe or Tucker be dealt at the deadline to join their old mates?

Hey blurr! Thanks again for the kind words. It is really appreciated.

@eyebleaf: Hey, easy now. DGB is good people too.

to say that Sundin's character was the reason the Leafs were unable to make the playoffs or succeed is complete and utter bullshit

I didn't really put it quite like that, but to be clear: I do think last year's team was a playoff calibre team with a lot of good players who under-performed. Team chemistry was a serious issue. "Dysfunctional" was a popular expression when describing the Leafs. While Sundin was in no way the source of that dysfunction, the Captain has a duty to try to prevent or limit any problems that might affect the team's performance. The atmosphere inside the dressing room is the Captain's responsibility. If Sundin had been able to get the Leafs to rally around each other and into the playoffs, it would have been a reflection of his tremendous character and leadership. The challenge ahead of him was enormous, but it was a challenge that he issued to himself. Unfortunately, despite Sundin's brave intentions, the team failed miserably.

But that's just one bad season. All that means is that Sundin is human. I think he has been a great leader and can be again, but last season was a bad year, a disaster really, and obviously it affected him deeply.

And I hope that's the end of it. Cheers!

eyebleaf said...

Blame Sundin all you want for believing that the 07/08 was playoff team and that the reason they fell short was because of Mats. It's insane, but please continue to do so.

Just a short while ago Sundin's belief in last year's squad was seen as valiant and as a testament to his devotion to the Leafs and his teammates.

Now it's his fault the team didn't make the playoffs and it's his fault the team couldn't play defence for its life.

Blurr, what was Sundin supposed to do about Blake unable to score anymore? What was he supposed to do about a garbage Tucker? What was he supposed to do early on in the season when Toskala couldn't stop a beachball, and what was he supposed to do when the coach kept playing a goalie who can never stop a beachball? Please, tell me.

DGB, again you paint the story in terms that suit you and only you. Sundin has said that he didn't waive b/c he still believed the team could make the playoffs. He never said he didn't waive b/c they were a "contender."

General, when you say something like His inability to rescue the team from disaster last year is evidence of a lack of assertiveness and character. I think you are being pretty clear in your thoughts and placing the majority of the blame for the Leafs' problems on Sundin's shoulders.

Hockey is a team game. If you think one guy can "rescue the team from disaster" you're solely mistaken. Even if Crosby was on that team instead of Sundin last year, they're not making the playoffs.

general borschevsky said...

If you think one guy can "rescue the team from disaster" you're solely mistaken.

Sundin thought it was possible. And it was possible. Just because it didn't happen doesn't mean it couldn't.

But I'm not blaming Sundin for any of the problems the Leafs had last year, I'm just saying he was unable to solve them. There's a big difference in my mind. He thought he could and when he couldn't the Leafs were in an even bigger mess because of it. After that, Sundin wasn't sure if he wanted to come back, and the Leafs weren't sure if they wanted him back.

Time passes. Life goes on. Leafs rebuild. Sundin eventually goes to Vancouver.

Down Goes Brown said...

Sundin has said that he didn't waive b/c he still believed the team could make the playoffs. He never said he didn't waive b/c they were a "contender."

That distinction is either a.) meaningless or semantics, or b.) evidence that just making the playoffs with no chance of actually contending was good enough for Mats. I don't see a good option there.

general borschevsky said...

just making the playoffs with no chance of actually contending was good enough for Mats

I think that's absolutley true. Except that perhaps in Mats' mind making the playoffs is contending. All you have to do is survive the regular season, and then anything can happen, especially with a player like Mats on the team, right?

Vancouver is the same situation. With San Jose and Detroit in the same conference, the Canucks will be happy just to get into the first or second round, but they aren't legitimate contenders, I don't think.

I don't blame Mats for wanting to get into the post-season, sometimes known as "the real hockey season". He hasn't been there since 2004 and it is the highest calibre of hockey played on earth. It's good that he wants to compete against the best. He seems less interested in playing alongside the best, but it's good that he wants to compete against the best. Slightly different from Hossa, and maybe more worthy of respect. Certainly it will be if he can surprise everybody and get Vancouver into the Finals.

Cheers, again, DGB! And cheers to anybody who read all this garbage about Mats and didn't shoot themselves in the head. Happy holidays!

eyebleaf said...

In my eyes, making the playoffs is competing for the Stanley Cup.

Cheers General. I hope there's no hard feelings. This the most sensitive of issues for me.

Merry Christmas.

DSBT said...

I'd have to disagree about Vancouver not contending in the Western conference. This coming from a guy who's fantasy team is 25% Sharks (everyone snickered when I picked Rob Blake, and laughed aloud when I took Clowe).

I'd have to say Sundin put Van-city as a pretty solid number three to the Wings and Sharks, neither of which are immune from the playoff underachieving of years past. If nothing else, and the San Jose Steamroller continues into the playoffs, at least Vancouver has a goalie that can take them to six games, and a big centre to play against joe...

general borschevsky said...

@eyebleaf: Cheers back at ya! We cool. This has made for the most incredible run of comments I've ever had.

making the playoffs is competing for the Stanley Cup

Agreed. Which leads to..

@DSBT: The best thing about the NHL playoffs is that there are always upsets, especially in the first round, and quite often the best team is the one that's hitting their stride right before it begins. Out of 21 President's Trophy winners, only 7 have won the Cup. I find that astonishing, but that's the NHL I guess.