Mats Sundin: Gone Baby Gone
By Melissa Hashemian
This is probably close to, if not the same response many provoked Leaf fans give when discussing the muddled status of Toronto, and the angst brought on by the departure of their captain Mats Sundin.
After spending 13 seasons of his career in a Leafs jersey, the 37 year old centreman became an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, 2008 and was heavily pursued by countless teams attempting to add his infamous name to their roster.
It was a four team race between the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, and Detroit Red Wings. Unfortunately however, I refuse to go into explicit detail on the opportunities he was given and the decisions he could have and should have made.
Being a Leafs fan myself, it was extremely difficult to watch the crazy media attention centred on him. There were either rumours announcing that Sundin no longer wanted to remain in Toronto or that he was contemplating retirement.
Clearly this publicity did not have a positive effect among the followers of the blue and white, and immediately drew negative attention towards their star player.
It’s not surprising either. The guy couldn’t make up his mind on what he wanted to do; he just kept putting off his final decision to a further date.
The more I think about it the more I realize how much Mats Sundin reminded me of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It might seem like a strange comparison at first, but they share a lot in common.
They are both patient, indecisive, and slow at coming to conclusions. For Hamlet it was about killing his uncle and for Sundin it was about killing time the teams gave him—sadly the clock was ticking for negotiating rights.
Even his agent J.P Barry knew what was going on. “He knows if he waits too long certain opportunities could disappear. But he just wants to be one hundred percent sure that he wants to play next year.”
And he was right. As a result, Montreal ended up acquiring Robert Lang from Chicago and New York obtained Markus Naslund from Vancouver.
What irritates me the most is that he says one thing and acts on another. It’s some sort of split personality where you have two minds contradicting each other; it results in confusion because you can’t decide which one to listen to.
Later this summer, in the process of rebuilding his future he stated, “I cannot leave my teammates and join another NHL team at this time. I have never believed in the concept of a rental player.
"It is my belief that winning the Stanley Cup is the greatest thing you can achieve in hockey but for me, in order to appreciate it you have to have been part of the entire journey and that means October through June.”
I don’t know about you, but I failed to witness his name on any team site.
So instead of wasting my time waiting for a tall, bald man to come out onto the ice, I began to resent him instead. Too bad for the no-trade clause. Perhaps the Leafs could have actually received someone significant who wouldn’t either be dying because of age or absent because of injury.
Sundin’s probably living the high life overseas right now with his 25-year-old Swedish model/fiancée. I guess it makes sense to focus on his love life now, seeing how all his previous girlfriends left him in the past. It’s a shame really.
Who knows, maybe he’s just waiting to see what teams climb out on top, come December and January, or merely living his life until he comes to the conclusion that he’s going to retire anyway.
Whatever the case may be, Mats Sundin’s name is still used when discussing the future of the organization—even if his presence in the dressing room no longer exists.
All I can look forward to now is what this team will become. There isn’t much hope at the moment with most of their veteran players gone and no “C” on any particular jersey. However, this team is full of potential and can rise above it given the right ingredients.
There’s been a momentous change since the firing of JFJ. Cliff Fletcher has officially taken over and no longer makes apple bobbing decisions. There is a great coaching staff that, even without the captain, is doing a good job developing the youngsters.
The future is now. The future is Luke Schenn, Vesa Toskala, and Mikhail Grabovski. If Leaf fans quit being so judgmental and demanding, maybe they’ll see that even without their number one centre on the ice, this team can reconstruct into something functional, something big. A winning team can be produced; you just have to keep watching!
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