On a hot Saturday after noon in mid July, I had the honor and the privilege of interviewing one of the best Swedish hockey players in history, Mats Sundin.
GC: I want to thank you for taking the time for this interview, Mats.
MS: No, let me thank you. Hold on, I just have to turn my phone off so we're not interrupted by the constant calling of General Managers who are inquiring about my services. (Pulls out phone, turn to silent mode.) Okay, what can I do for you?
GC: Well Mats, as a member of the hockey fan community, I just want to say that you're baffling the hell out of us by not telling us what your doing. Can you please tell us why you're taking so long?
MS: As you know, I'm getting older, Greg. Since I'm almost nearing the age when I can collect an AARP bonus on my contract, I need to move at a slower pace. Also, by waiting, I read all of what the newspapers say about me and what kind of contract I should look for. That's actually how I negotiated my last deal. I was going to ask for only for $4 million but when I read a column saying how I could get $5.5, that's what I asked for. The media can be a real pain, but sometimes they can be helpful.
GC: There's rumors around that you're going to sign with the New York Rangers. Any truth to it?
MS: Well, there was at one point, and being that they're perfectly suited for me, I would sign there. Glen Sather is always more then a welcoming presence to us hockey players close to retirement. I was very close to signing with them by Slats needed by answer on July 1, and I wasn't ready to give it. So here I am, still a free man.
GC: If you could choose one place, where would it be?
MS: I'll play any place that wants to pay me for the maximum I can get. There's only a few places I wouldn't want to play, but I won't name them for the sake of respecting every franchise.
GC: Come on Mats, this is the NHL section of Bleacher Report, there's like a whole five people that read it. Your secret will be safe here. Please elaborate.
MS: Well, I don't know much about Bleacher Report, only that this one kid that writes there keeps calling my house to get my answer. What an annoyance.
GC: Is his name Alan Bass?
MS: I believe so, yes. What a schmuck!
GC: Okay, back to the teams you wouldn't want to play for.
MS: Right. Well, I wouldn't want to play for Montreal because I'll be honest with you, I can't stand French people. They drink wine with everything up there! Whether it's with a hundred dollar fine dinner or a frozen yogurt at the Bell Centre, there they are with their darned red wine. Instead of talking hockey, these old men in berets sit around singing about "Mimi". I can't stand it.
I thought about Philadelphia too, but they're too close to Amish country and those people annoy me too. They say too many "thees" and "thys". I couldn't play near a place like that. Now, my uncle was a miner over in Sweden so I did give Pittsburgh a thought. But if we were to fall into last place, their fans would stop coming. It would remind me too much of Toronto.
GC: What about the Devils?
MS: Please Greg, I don't want to get shot on my way to work.
GC: Did you ever give any west coast teams a chance?
MS: Well yes in fact, I did. I thought about Anaheim but it wouldn't be right to be called "Mighty Mats" on a team that's less then mighty right now. Besides, I'd have to sign there in February to play, and I want to play a full season.
Now the Los Angeles Kings, there's a team to play for. They have a solid defense, excellent goal tending, and an offense that can score ten goals a game. And yes, that is a flask of Long Island Ice tea I have in my pocket.
GC: Speaking of Long Island, how about playing for the Islanders?
MS: The Gorton's Fisherman scares the hell out of me and I hate fish, so no, I could never play there. I always enjoyed a good peace pipe, but since Nolan got fired, it smashed all chances of me ever signing there.
GC: Didn't the Canucks offer you like ten million dollars?
MS: Yeah, but I won't play for a team that I don't know what they're name means. Can you tell me what a Canuck is?
GC: I'm afraid I can't. Oh, and there's a rumor that your getting married, is that true?
MS: Yes it is. After Martin Brodeur got divorced, I fell in love with his ex.
GC: If you could pick two words to describe your feelings towards getting married in the middle of your career, what would they be?
GC: Well Mats, I think that's all the time we have for you right now. I know you're busy, so I'll let you go.
MS: Well thanks for giving me the opportunity for this interview. It's been a while since anyone from the media wanted to put me in a positive light. I really appreciate it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to moderate an anger management session between Brian Burke and Kevin Lowe.