"I think if you want to be part of the team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup or a team that is going far in the playoffs, my opinion has always been that you want to be there from training camp or the start of the season to be part of the group."
-Mats Sundin, doesn't believe in being a rental player, February 24/2008
Whoops... hold on.
"I think if you want to be part of the team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup or a team that is going far in the playoffs, then forget about hockey altogether and go ice-fishing until the end of August. Spend most of the Fall in Scandinavia. Don't talk to anybody! Announce an online poker endorsement deal! Go to California in December to "work out" while you're agent conducts an unprecedented bidding war, my new opinion is you want to be there no later then about mid-season to be part of the group."
-Mats Sundin, absolutely committed to being a rental player, December 15/2008
If it's true that Sundin is headed to either the Rangers or Vancouver, one thing is now certain: Leafs fans will get a chance to see the former Captain and express their feelings in person. Whichever way you feel, and whichever team he goes to, circle the third weekend of February, 2009 on your calendar. By sheer coincidence (maybe), the Leafs play Vancouver at home on Saturday, February the 21st, and then play the first of back-to-back games with the NYRangers on Sunday, the 22nd in New York. The back end of the home-and-home with the Rangers is in Toronto on the 25th.
There's lots more that could be said on this subject; - like how Mats is throwing away a legacy; how Cliff Fletcher made all the right moves rebuilding the team while trying to keep Sundin; that Burke and Wilson did the right thing by letting Sundin know that he was welcome but not particularly wanted; or that Vancouver and the Rangers are cheap, plastic imitations of true hockey cities like Detroit, Montreal, and, oh yes, Toronto. I could say all those things. I could also mention that it's going to be really sad when Mats Sundin doesn't win a Stanley Cup, and skates off the ice for perhaps the last time in the NHL, wearing the uniform of a team he's only been on for a few months, to the empty applause of fans with no appreciation for his distinguished career. I could say all that, but he's not a Maple Leaf now, so who really cares? Maybe by mid-February though, we'll feel a lot less apathetic. Could be a good week to have Leaf tickets.