This may be an odd thing coming from a Senators fan. But despite what some of my other colleagues in the Senators community believe, I think Mats Sundin is one of the best players in the NHL.
In fact, when talks were circling last year that Sundin was gonna be on trade block and willing to waive his no-trade clause, I honestly thought the Senators should have made a push to get him on this team. Many thought I was crazy, others thought it would never happen, and a few believed I should be hung from a tree in front of the parliament buildings!
Regardless of all that, I believe Sundin's addition to any team deemed to be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, may be enough to put said team over the top. The Montreal Canadiens, for one, would definitely be legitimate contenders, given the depth of their roster and solid goaltending.
That being said, the ridiculous amount of money thrown his way may be too much for the aging centre, given his longevity as a viable player in the NHL. While no one can dispute the fact that eighteen-straight 20-goal seasons is impressive, a few things are glaringly clear.
For one, he's never had a 50-goal season in his career. He's hit 40 a few times, but never fifty.
Second, he's only reached the 100-point plateau once, in his second year with the Nordiques, and since then has only reached over 90 points twice and over 70 points another two times.
Finally, he's never won a Stanley Cup.
Some critics have argued that of one of the greatest character flaws about Sundin is his seeming ambiguity towards the National Hockey League championship. One such example arose in the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when it was found out that Sundin had already booked his ticket back to Sweden before Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, after the Leafs had fallen to 3-2 in the series against the Flyers.
Others argue that the best hockey that they'd seen the Swedish phenom play was during the 2004 Olympics in Turin, when the Swedish National Team won the Olympic Gold Medal.
However, it is without a doubt that Mats has been the heart and soul of a Toronto team that has not seen a championship since 1967. His unwavering loyalty to his team and teammates has been without question.
Character flaws aside, I think that Mats Sundin would be an asset to any team he decides to join, whether it be Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, or Detroit. But at the twilight of a career, it would be foolish to hand out such a large contract.
My advice to General Managers is this—get what you can, when you can and at the best value to your team and its fans. In the end, it's the average ticket buyer who will feel the pitfalls or positive consequences of your decision.
Finally, Mats Sundin should make the decision that is right to him. He has nothing left to prove, and if he retires it will be with his head held high.