Originally posted here: EA SPORTSWORLD
Depending on who you ask, all I can say is that hockey is alive in Vancouver and that the second coming may as well have been confirmed with the arrival of Mats Sundin to Vancouver.
A poll among Vancouverites will tell you that the Canucks are now legitimately among the top teams that will be in the hunt come playoff time. Our good friends in the epicenter of Canada, Toronto, may seem to be less faithful that their former savior will add as big of a difference as the west-coasters feel he may. Oh, let the east-west bickering begin.
When I first heard of the rumors and the offer last summer that went out for Sundin ($20 million over two years), I was reminded of one of my favorite commercials with the Habs goalie riding a lawn mower aggressively shredding the Maple Leafs on his lawn.
His hatred for Sundin coming out with each turn as he made another pass and another quip in his strong French-Canadian accent about Mats and how he should've never scored the way he did in games past.
As much as I tended to shake my fist at Mats as well, in the back of my mind I always thought that if he ever came to Vancouver he could easily become one of those players that you despised on the other team, yet would absolutely love to have on your own.
I even heard during that time that he was enjoying his time playing poker and just figuring out whether or not hockey was still something that he wanted to do. Who could blame him?
Tough years not winning a Cup in Toronto and I'd think I'd have a better chance of winning the WSOP than Lord Stanley's as a Maple Leaf. Though I never put much thought to it even with such a big offer on the table. As a Canucks fan, I've seen the best players pass up on this city (*cough* Wayne *cough*).
Even last week when talk resurfaced, after Mats supposedly felt like he wanted to play hockey again, that he had narrowed his choice down to two teams, New York Rangers or the Canucks, I still didn't get my hopes up. It was all too familiar.
And then what seemed to be the impossible came true. GM Mike Gillis signed Mats Sundin to a one-year contract to the Vancouver Canucks, bringing the most sought after UFA to the west coast. He turned down an offer to play in NY with fellow Swede, Markus Naslund, and a pretty competitive NY team.
Instead, Mats will team up with not one, but three fellow countryman he won gold medals with in the 2006 Olympics in Turin. He's also reunited with former Leaf, Kyle Wellwood, who's been on a pretty hot streak as of late.
When you add the fact that he also agreed to less money (just over $8 million pro rated to $6 million) than originally offered to allow the Canucks room in the cap to still make a move near the trade deadline, it's hard not to look at this deal as something that's nothing more than a dream come true.
This guy is a team player and without taking anything away from Roberto Luongo, you've got to figure that Mats will make quite the impact instantly with his new team on and off the ice.
At one point it's even been reported that Bobby Lou himself reached out to Mats during the talks with hopes of bringing the natural leader and powerful forward to Vancouver.
The Canucks are one of the best teams right now, and with their team game and what seems to be a management team that's not only living up but exceeding expectation, the addition of Mats can really only be seen as a total positive.
The way the team has responded with their captain out of the lineup has been huge. Fans can only drool at the prospect of a healthy Luongo playing at his best, while Sundin leads a line with Wellwood and perhaps Burrows, and at the same time, ogle at the Sedins who continue to quietly add goals and assists in a very work-like fashion.
With people still wiping their tears watching Trevor Linden's No. 16 raised to the rafters, it's no surprise that the same box of Kleenex is being used by those same fans as one of today's best players fits his way into a new jersey of blue.