Toronto Maple Leafs: Future In Sundin's Hands

Shane NormanCorrespondent IFebruary 29, 2008

In this day and age of the no trade contract and salary cap, most pro hockey players are all about winning, not what team they do it with.

In Toronto we have one of the most loyal players in the game, Mats Sundin. He doesn't want to win hockey's highest award, the Stanley cup, unless it's with his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs. He stuck to his guns and stayed with the Leafs instead of being traded.

Is it true the club could of dealt Sundin for a healthy return of draft picks or young players? Sundin honored his contract. Any kind of back lash from management or fans shouldn't bother Sundin, or true hockey fans one bit. 

In Cliff Fletcher's first tenure as GM for the Maple leafs, he brought Sundin into the organization 13 years ago. He has quietly become one of the best and most productive players to ever play for the historic Leafs.

To bring the big swede to Toronto, Fletcher gave up one of the most recognized players in the Leaf history, Wendle Clark. Would Wendle Clark waive his no trade clause? Years later another huge name in Maple Leaf history, Doug Gilmore was traded. No one will ever know if Clark or Gilmore would or wouldn't have, but we do know Sundin's answer.

Mats Sundin has been one of the most consistant players in the NHL since joining the Leafs in 1995. At the age of 37 he is still producing with sub par linemates, and if he decides to keep playing at seasons end, who ever is the GM of the Leafs will be foolish not to sign him for the rest of his career with a no trade clause.

The fans should applaud Sundin for his loyalty. If Sundin is all about winning in Toronto, and goes into contract negotiations over the summer, he should take a pay cut to stay here. Management can free up some cap space and be able to go after some quality players.

Cliff Fletcher has vowed to have a new look at the start of next season via buy outs of some deadwood contracts, trades, and free agents. So how serious is Sundin about winning, and what will happen after this season? It's all in Mats Sundin's hands, and only he will have the answers.