Mats Sundin: The Swedish Maple Leaf Who Became a Canuck

Martin AverySenior Writer IFebruary 8, 2009


Sundin has played most of his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the Swede is now a Canuck.

At the end of the 2007–08 NHL season, he was the second-longest active serving captain in the NHL, behind Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche, and the longest-serving non-North American born captain in NHL history.

Sundin began his career with the Quebec Nordiques, and was traded to the Leafs in 1994.

Sundin was drafted by Quebec with the first overall pick in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, becoming the first European-born player drafted first overall in NHL history.

The Maple Leafs acquired Sundin in a trade on June 28, 1994. The Nordiques sent Sundin, Garth Butcher, Todd Warriner, and a 1994 first-round draft pick (acquired through the 1992 Eric Lindros deal, traded to the Washington Capitals, and used to pick Nolan Baumgartner) to the Leafs in exchange for Wendel Clark, Sylvain Lefebvre, Landon Wilson and a 1994 first-round draft pick.

Sundin has scored at least 70 points every year. He has played at least 70 games in every full length NHL season of his career, and has led the Leafs in points in every year he has been with the team except 2002–03, when Alexander Mogilny beat him by seven points.

Sundin became the first Swedish player to score 500 goals in the NHL.

He is the Leafs' franchise all-time leader in goals (420) and points (984).

Sundin represented Team Sweden at the World Cup and the Winter Olympics, and has been team captain for the national squad for the better part of the last decade.

Sundin has won three IIHF World Championships with Sweden in 1991, 1992 and 1998.

Sundin clinched an Olympic gold medal with Team Sweden in 2006 in Turin.

Near the beginning of the 2006–07 season, Sundin became just the 35th player in NHL history to reach the 500-goal mark.

The following season, in 2007–08, Sundin hit several team records as a Maple Leaf.

Sundin scored his 389th goal with the club, tying Darryl Sittler's team record, and then scored more. Sundin scored his 917th point as a Maple Leaf, breaking Darryl Sittler's franchise all-time record. Sundin became the first player to score 400 goals as a Leaf. He broke Babe Dye's 83-year-old Toronto record when he extended his home game point streak to 15 games.

The Maple Leafs wanted Sundin to waive his no-trade clause in order for the team to get young talent and/or draft picks, but he refused, stating that he did not believe in being a "rental player."  He said that if he won the Stanley Cup, he wanted to do it over the course of a whole season.

Sundin became a free agent. There were rumours he would play for the Montreal Canadiens or the New York Rangers.

On the day of free agency, newly appointed general manager Mike Gillis of the Vancouver Canucks offered Sundin a lucrative two-year, $20-million dollar contract which, if signed, would have made him the highest paid player in the NHL.

The Canucks extended Swedish-centered special offers, such as a Volvo and IKEA products.

Mats Sundin made his first appearance as a member of the Canucks, wearing his famous No. 13. Sundin had two goals, one assist and 16 penalty minutes in his first nine games as a Canuck.

Vancouver is 1-5-3 with Sundin.

Sundin signed for $5.6-million (U.S.) for the rest of the season, and was supposed to be the kingmaker. He has been anything but—so far.

Sundin and Kessler have been dynamite together since being put on a line with Pavol Demitra. Sundin had three points in his last game.

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