Toronto Maple Leafs: Has Mats Sundin Played His Last Game?
Today, without much fanfare, it was announced that Toronto Maple Leaf captain and all-time points leader Mats Sundin will not be playing tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. His sore groin is not quite right after Saturday night's win over the Montreal Canadians.
Fellow centre Kyle Wellwood has also been scratched from tonight’s line-up also and his season has been deemed over as his post-surgery hernia needs some rest and relaxation. He will miss the Maple Leafs last three games.
As for long-time Maple Leaf Sundin, it appears that the Leaf Nation may have well seen the last of their 11-year captain as well. After this morning's pre-game skate Leafs coach Paul Maurice was playing coy with the local media as to whether or not we have seen the last of Sundin this year or not.
Maurice would only say that “Mats knows his body best and he will decide when he can play to his level or not!”
Including tonight’s tilt with the Sabres, the Maple Leafs’ remaining games include games against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday and Saturday in Montreal.
For Mats Sundin, I can only speculate that we have probably seen him play his last game in a Maple Leaf jersey and even possibly in the NHL.
Last Saturday against the Habs could well have been Sundin's NHL “swan song.” He played the whole game and collected an assist in the Leafs 4-1 win.
For Sundin—who has been the consummate professional captain in hockey-starved Toronto—his post Maple Leaf memoirs will undoubtedly look like this:
In 1989, Sundin was the first European-born player drafted No. 1 in the NHL. He was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques.
He played four seasons for the now-defunct Nordiques who later would became the Colorado Avalanche.
On June 28th, 1994 Sundin was traded to the Maple Leafs in a blockbuster trade that saw Garth Butcher and Todd Warriner traded with Sundin to Toronto for then the most popular Maple Leaf (maybe ever), Wendel Clarke and Sylvan Lefebvre along with Landon Wilson. The teams also exchanged first round draft choices.
It did not take Sundin long to become a leader in Toronto. In 1997 he was named the Leaf captain and also became the first European born player to be named a Toronto Maple Leafs' captain.
This year (Sundin's 13th) with the Maple Leafs saw him record an all-time high with Toronto. On October 11th, 2007 against the New York Islanders, Sundin broke Darryl Sittler's record for all-time regular season points as a Maple Leaf. The previous record held by Sittler was 916 points (389 goals and 527 assists). Sittler, another former Leafs captain, played in 844 games for Toronto.
Today, Sundin has recorded 987 points based on 981 games played in a blue and white jersey and amassing 420 goals and 567 assists.
In all but one of 13 seasons with the Leafs, Sundin has won the team scoring race—the only other winner was Alex Mogilny, who in 2003 beat Sundin by seven points.
In 67 playoff games with the Leafs, Sundin has recorded 32 goals and 38 points-good for another 70 points.
Sundin holds the NHL record for going fifteen straight seasons with 70 or more points. He has also played in nine All-Star games and has been an international hockey star as well.
Sundin has won three World Hockey Championships playing for his native Sweden, and in 2006 Sundin captained the Swedish National Team to the Olympic Gold, beating archrival Finland 3-2 in the finals.
To this date Sundin will probably admit that winning an Olympic gold medal has been his greatest accomplishment in professional hockey. Who can blame him?
In 65 international games Sundin has scored 31 goals and has added another 46 assists to record an impressive 77 points abroad.
Sundin's credentials are most impressive and he surely will become a certified “first ballot” Hockey Hall of Fame inductee.
The only blotch on his resume will be his final three seasons in a Maple Leafs uniform. This is the third year in a row (post-lockout) that the Leafs have missed the post season—all under Sundin's captaincy.
In hockey crazy Toronto that is not a good thing.
For Sundin, today’s announcement that he will not play the third last (meaningless) game of the season for the Maple Leafs would normally mean nothing; however, when it is the captain who is coming off three one-year contracts in a row it means a lot!
Has the 37-year old Swede played his last game in Toronto, and the NHL?
I hope in twenty years the hockey pundits are not writing this about Mats Sundin: "Great Maple Leaf captain, hall of famer, big/strong, graceful, power forward, with great hands, but..."
Good luck Mats Sundin, you owe nothing to Leaf Nation—you have bled blue and white!
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