Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sundin Vs. Leafs, Feb. 21st or 22nd?

The National Post, the CBC, and the Globe and Mail are all reporting tonight that Mats Sundin has narrowed his list of teams down to just 2: the Vancouver Canucks and the NYRangers. Since neither Sundin nor J.P. Barry would comment directly, this was the only quote I could find to confirm or deny the story:

"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.


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

I'm disappointed to see you use the words "throwing away a legacy."

His legacy is defined by what he did on the ice with the Maple Leafs. Not any of this bullshit.

PPP said...

His legacy was built bt what he did on the ice and he threw away all of the love and admiration that his supporters fought so hard to get him with this bullshit.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

This is what disappoints me, this short-sightedness. That a few months of drama is enough to throw everything away in your eyes. I find it unbelievable, frankly.

Down Goes Brown said...

When talking about his legacy, I think "tarnish" is a better word.

Sundin has embarassed himself in 2008, with his apparent lack of interest in winning a Cup, his ridiculous quotes about rental players, his flip-flopping, his hiding out in Sweden, his poker shilling... all of it. What a mess.

But on the other hand, like eyebleaf says, there's still 14 years of time with the Leafs that includes an awful lot of great memories. None of that gets erased. The game-tying goal against the Canes doesn't go away. The 500th in OT against the Flames doesn't go away. The 1-0 OT dagger against the Sens doesn't go away.

You take the good with the bad, with any player. I just think it's sad that Sundin's reputation was virtually perfect for all those years, and he's been poking holes in it all year. I feel for the guy, because I think he's genuinely confused about what he should do, and he really wants to do the right thing. He's just screwed it up all along the way.

He hasn't thrown away everything. It's just that now, a great 14-year story is always going to have a "yeah, but..." tacked onto the ending. And it shouldn't have been that way.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

Well said, DGB.

I think Mats is confused as shit, too, and that this all went to hell a few months ago.

It's unfortunate.

Down Goes Brown said...

I think Mats is confused as shit, too, and that this all went to hell a few months ago.

Agreed, and I also think he's been getting bad advice from folks around him.

general borschevsky said...

DGB: Really appreciate your input. Very well said.

PPP: Thanks for jumping in there!

eyebleaf: I'm sorry. I knew you weren't going to like this post. The records and the accomplishments will never be forgotten, but what he is throwing away is the things he still could have done. The dramatic return to Toronto, the heartfelt pledge that this was the only team he wanted to play for, the thrilling (even if ill-advised) rush to make the playoffs. The improbable overtime victories and the stunning playoff upset, before a final sprirted and noble defeat, then the final bow, the curtain call, the words "Maple Leaf forever"... none of that will happen.

I don't blame Mats entirely, though. I believe it was up to him in the summer when Fletcher was in charge. Cliff would have made it happen if Sundin wanted it. Once Wilson got comfortable and it was clear Burke was coming, things changed. Wilson's assertion that he'd "make Sundin the Captain" seemed like a coy way of warning Sundin off. I'm guessing the last thing Sundin wants is the weight of an entire team on his shoulders or to be responsible for its failure.

Thanks for the comments, gang!

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

No need to apologize, brother. We may argue and disagree, but at the end of the day we're a big family, and we all share a common goal: the Stanley Cup.

general borschevsky said...

Amen. Have a great trip. We'll try to keep up the passion while your away.