First things first—thank you.
Thank you for the memories. Thank you for sharing your unequaled excitement every time you scored a goal. Thank you for being a role model to me when I was wee little Leafs fan, and for continuing to be a role model to all young Leafs fans.
Thank you for your loyalty to a club that was hardly, if ever, loyal to you. Thank you for, in my opinion, being the greatest Toronto Maple Leaf—and Leafs captain—of all time.
That being said, and in light of your most recent comments, I feel that it is finally time for us to part ways.
Today you made it all but official that you don't plan to be back when you said, after being asked if you would make a decision before training camp starts:
“The way it looks right now, probably not. I want to make sure that I'm ready to mentally and physically play. Where I am right now is that I'm not ready to make that decision.”
Mats, you said yourself that you believe that the "journey" to the Stanley Cup starts at the beginning of training camp—not somewhere in between. And you said that it was this very "journey" that defined a player's season.
So, Mats, don't become something you never were in the hockey world—a hypocrite. And more importantly, Mats, in the words of the Backstreet Boys, "quit playing games with my heart."
I loved you, Mats—and I supported you when it seemed like all of Toronto was calling for your head. I even supported you through this long, drawn-out, bitter offseason. I still even support you at this very moment, and I trust you'll make the right decision—but it cannot involve us, the Leafs Nation.
You see, Mats, there is one thing I love—one thing that we love more than you. Our true love lies with the crest on the front of that blue and white sweater. The crest that carries so much history with it, the crest that carries within itself joy and heart ache, The Maple Leaf.
So, in honour of our first and true love, on behalf of Leafs Nation I bid you adieu. It is time for us, fans and players alike, to move on and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel—Lord Stanley's Cup.