The Mats Sundin Decision Matrix

Lothar ZoggContributor IJuly 24, 2008

As I've been following the Mats Sundin saga over the last month, everyone seems to have their own opinion about what decision he will make, and why. Reading all of these thing, I'm left wondering what Mats may be thinking about and how he will come to his decision, whenever that happens.

What are the criteria that are important in his decision about where to play next season? What are the relative weights he will put on them?

A valuable tool to help make a complex decision is a decision matrix... Put your criteria in the columns, your options in the rows, assign relative scores, multiply by some weights, add it all up and -- voila! -- your highest scoring alternative is the way to go (although experience shows it isn't always so easy).  So here is my take on how this process might go.

[Mats: Feel free to make use of this, no cost to you. If it helps to speed up your decision, that would be swell.]

The Options

To simplify things, I've reduced it down to the three main alternatives that seem to be realistic and getting the vast majority of the coverage: the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Vancouver Canucks. Other options like retirement or playing in Europe, while they are quite possible, are much too difficult to speculate about in this format, so I'll leave them out.

The Criteria

I decided upon the following five criteria, and assigned weights to them, totalling 10.

1) Desire to Win the Cup : This one is pretty obvious. (Weight = 3)

2) Money : I don't think this is a huge one for Mats, as long as he is not grossly underpaid, like taking $3 million to go play in Detroit or something silly like that, it probably does not matter too much if he is making $7 million or $10 million. (Weight = 2)

3) Enjoyment: Hey, after all, it is a game after all. This takes into consideration things like teammates and line-mates, travel schedule, point production and the team's "system", etc. My feeling is that this is Mats' most important criteria. (Weight = 4)

4) Loyalty to the Leafs and the Feelings of "Leaf Nation" : This is a touchy one, but my take on it is that after the way things went this past year at the trade deadline (and considering the same could happen next season), I don't think this will weight too heavily. I can't understand why there are some Leaf fans who seem to think that Mats owes them something... but if I were Mats, I would not care too much how that type of fan feels. (Weight = 1)

5) Stupid things that Mike Gillis says on the radio: Like playing in the Olympics in the same city that you play (Weight = 0).

OK, let's forget number 5. So, only four criteria then.

The Scores

For each criteria, I am giving each alternative a base score from 0 to 10, and multiplying by the weight to get a weighted score, which will be added to get the total for each team. I will try as much as possible to use quantitative measures to justify the scores.

For the chance to win the Cup, we can look at the current betting odds for the 3 teams to win the cup. Currently, the Habs are 8:1, Canucks 31:1 and Leafs, 66:1. Roughly, the betting world is saying that the Habs are 4 times more likely than the 'Nucks and 8 times more likely than the Leafs to win it all. Translating this to our scale, I award for chance to win the cup:

Montreal:8, Vancouver:2, Toronto: 1.

Money is pretty easy, although it's not clear if Montreal has offered 7 or 8 million, I'll go on the low side (if for no other reason, due to higher taxes in Quebec!):

Vancouver:10, Montreal:7, Toronto:7.

Enjoyment: Well, being quantitative gets a bit tougher here. This criteria is partially tied to the first one, because, hey, winning is always fun. So the Habs have the early advantage. Also, scoring goals is fun. Again, the Habs scored the most last year at 261, compared to 231 and 213 for the Leafs and Canucks, respectively).

Also to the Habs advantage is their speedy system and the quality wingers that could flank Sundin if he chooses to play there.  Travel schedule hurts the Canucks here, but at least there are plenty of other Swedes to hang out with, make meatballs, crank the Abba, go shopping at Ikea, or whatever.

As for Toronto, obviously he has friends there already, but at the same time, it did not look to me like he was enjoying himself a lot towards the end of last season. In the end, there is no huge winner here, but the edge goes to the Canadiens.

Montreal: 6, Toronto:5, Vancouver:4.

Last, but not -- oh wait, it is least -- loyalty to the Leafs and the feelings of "Leafs Nation". Obviously, going with the Leafs gives a perfect score here, and there is some sentiment that signing with the Habs is unforgivable.

Toronto: 10, Vancouver: 5, Montreal: 1.

The Matrix ("What'll it be? The red pill, or the blue one?")

So, for the final (weighted) tally, I get:

Montreal: 3x8 + 2x7 + 4x6 + 1x1 = 63 pts

Toronto: 3x1 + 2x7 + 4x5 + 1x10 = 47 pts

Vancouver: 3x2 + 2x10 + 4x4 + 1x5 = 47 pts

Assuming that all of this is correct (and why wouldn't it be?), the decision matrix clearly has Mats choosing to take the bleu, blanc, et rouge pill.


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