The Mats Sundin Saga: Another Page Turned in the New NHL

Kevin van SteendelaarAnalyst IDecember 21, 2008

So, Mats Sundin has finally cashed in his chips and decided that he wants to play for the Vancouver Canucks. I can almost sleep peacefully now.
To be honest, I was expecting yet another "I never said that," statement to come by Friday morning.
After almost six months of will/he won't be and if so where? The 37-year-old NHL veteran has finally made a decision.
Now, don't get me wrong, I think Mats Sundin is a fantastic hockey player. My problem is his attitude in the past six months to the game as a whole.
Sundin made it clear last spring when he refused to waive his no-trade clause, that the only team he wanted to play for was the Toronto Maple Leafs. I guess he only meant for that one year?
I won't break it down, as we've read all the rumours and false reports already, but the way Sundin and his agent ran that poker game throughout the off-season was a disgrace. He has the scoring statistics to be in the Hall of Fame, but this stunt may lose him a few votes. He's not the first and unfortunately, he certainly won't be the last.
Now, I have no problem with free agency in the NHL, as long as the players are signed in the off-season. This whole mid-season, see how the other teams are doing and then I'll decide bit is rather pathetic.
But at least we know Peter Forsberg does plan to play by March, so we can narrow it down to 16 teams by then.
I hear Brendan Shanahan will make his choice before game one of the Stanley Cups Finals! What? You don't see that happening eventually?
The whole no-trade clause needs to be looked into as well. Maybe changing it to a conditional trade compensation clause instead would be more of a win-win for players and GMs. It won't solve the rent-a-player issue, but it might be a step in the right direction.
Anyways, gone are the days where a player will play his entire 20-year career for one team. Joe Sakic, and likely Niklas Lidstrom will be the last of them. Do you seriously see Ovechkin and Crosby staying in their respective markets in 20 years?
Whatever happened to the player deciding to retire at season's end, during training camp, or deciding that this would be his last season win or lose?
This past Thursday night, Hockey Night in Canada did a feature interview with Hall of Fame Montreal Canadiens star Yvon Cournoyer. At the end of the segment, Mr. Cournoyer stated that it took five years for it to sink in after his retirement in 1979 that he was no longer in the game. Five years Mats! That's passion for the game, something a lot of current NHLers do not have!
I can't recall Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieiux, or Bobby Orr showing up midseason, outside of injuries. But that was the "old" NHL and sometimes I really miss it.