With Mats Sundin returning to the news this week—not that he's really left it at all over the last two months—I've decided to publish a piece that has been complete for quite some time now.
In late February when there existed a strong possibility that the Maple Leafs' captain would be traded, I compiled a list of my favourite moments from the big Swede.
When a trade never materialized, I decided I would refrain from making my notes public until the summer when Sundin re-signed.
But alas, that scenario hasn't panned out.
Then there was word that Sundin would sign with a rival club, or even retire. I decided that there would never be a better time to show off such a list than Sundin's end of term with the Maple Leafs.
But the big man hasn't made up his mind on that yet, either.
So I sit here in my house in Ottawa with a slow start to the school year, and have finally come to the decision that the time is now.
Sundin is in Toronto this week for a charity game and has re-iterated his stance that he will not be making a decision any time in the near future.
Hopefully, this means the media will finally get off his back.
By definition, news is something that fulfills three criteria: any occurrence that is significant, interesting and new.
The Sundin Saga is no longer any of the above.
However, since I am not reporting the news, and this will likely —and hopefully—be Sundin's last appearance in the limelight until a decision has been reached, the opportunity is being taken to get this in while the Maple Leafs point leader is still relevant.
So without further ado, here are my Mats Sundin Top Ten Maple Leafs moments:
10. January 23, 2008: Washington Capitals @ Toronto Maple Leafs
Sundin scores the winning goal with less than two minutes to play. It is the 544th goal of his career and moves him into a tie with the great Maurice Richard for 23rd on the all-time scoring list.
9. March 10, 2003: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Edmonton Oilers
On another game-winning goal, Sundin records his 1000th career point—joining an elite club of European players to reach the milestone.
8. November 29, 2007: Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs
With 17 seconds to play in regulation, Sundin sends the ACC crowd into pandemonium by forcing overtime with his 400th goal as a member of the Maple Leafs. He is the first player in franchise history to reach the milestone.
7. May 4, 2004: Philadelphia Flyers @ Toronto Maple Leafs
Game Six of the Eastern Conference semifinals—the Maple Leafs trail the series 3-2 and are down 2-0 in the third period. Sundin scores one goal and sets up another to force overtime.
6. October 11, 2007: New York Islanders @ Toronto Maple Leafs
On what is surely one of the ugliest goals of Sundin's career, he becomes the franchise leader in goals and points and is awarded all three stars of the game.
5. April 12, 2004: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators
Game Three of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals—Sundin fights off a check the length of the ice and scores a jaw-dropping goal on Patrick Lalime, putting the Leafs ahead 2-0 in the game and two games to one in the series.
4. April 13, 2001: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators
Game One of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals—a wicked slapshot off the crossbar from the blue line, Sundin's goal in overtime gives the Leafs a crucial series lead on the road.
3. May 28, 2002: Carolina Hurricanes @ Toronto Maple Leafs
Game Six of the Eastern Conference finals. With 22 seconds to play in regulation, Sundin's goal nearly lifts the roof right off the Air Canada Centre as the Leafs force overtime. (Toronto would lose the game and have not made it back to the Conference finals since.)
2. March 2006: Florida Panthers @ Toronto Maple Leafs
With the Leafs in the thick of a playoff race, the captain shows up in a big way, scoring four goals and adding two assists—including one on Tomas Kaberle's overtime winner—as the Leafs down the Panthers, 6-5.
1. October 14, 2006: Calgary Flames @ Toronto Maple Leafs
It doesn't get more dramatic than this. In typical fashion, Sundin completes the hat trick by scoring his 500th career goal short-handed in overtime of a 6-5 Leafs' win.
These are my favourites, feel free to disagree and share your own. Take care.