Blog Entry

Mats makes up his mind

Posted on: December 18, 2008 10:12 pm

The presidential election didn't seem to last this long and it went on for nearly two years. But thankfully, Mats Sundin has finally let everyone get on with their lives by deciding that yes, he really does want to play a little more hockey after all.

What's more, his decision comes just in time to let everyone enjoy the holidays without any distractions. The 37-year-old veteran has even figured out which team he is finally willing to joing, calling the Vancouver Canucks the best fit, which comes from that famous Swedish saying: "They showed me the money."

Ultimately, that's what this came down to for Sundin. Forget about what the former Toronto captain has been saying about possible retirement since April, or his hints that a return would only be for a legitimate shot at his first Stanley Cup. And don't even think about his oft repeated mantra that winning a Stanley Cup would only be meaningful if he played an entire season with the team.

Sundin used that logic to justify not waiving his no-trade clause for the Maple Leafs at last March's deadline, and in the process he put a severe crimp in Toronto's efforts to speed up its rebuilding process. But that was okay because that was the deal Sundin signed and was simply enforcing.

Now the altruism has vanished and Sundin has changed his outlook because, well, its convenient for him. Doesn't matter that he's kept a lot of people hangin for six months, while he presumably tried to figure out if he still had the drive and which club might offer the best shot at a Cup.

Clearly this has all been a big show. It was designed to let Sundin follow the path of veterans Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer in Anaheim last year, when they avoided the hassled of training camp and a relatively inconsequential first few months of the season. And Sundin had the added bonus of building up a market that would let him cash in on his own terms, which is exactly what he did.

Sundin's annual $10 million pro rated deal from the Canucks was on the table with a second year attached in July, when a half dozen teams courted him and kept their rosterss in some state of limbo waiting for his answer. Vancouver's cash wasn't enticing enough then, and chances are Sundin would have forgone it again if the New York Rangers could have found the cap room to sign him.

New York was his first choice, but to go there Sundin would have had to take less salary, albeit for what one might presume was a better chance at winning the Cup. Ther Rangers have been inconsistent, but look like they have an outside shot right now because there are several championship caliber players on the roster Sundin could complement.  Vancouver has been a pleasant surprise, and when Roberto Luongo is healthy, it has an elite goaltender. But the Canucks aren't deep enough to be seriously considered a Cup threat yet.

Problem is Sundin wouldn't play in New York with a deal that was commensurate with his expectations. It probably didn't have to be Vancouver type money, just close enough. But for a team that pushes the cap like the Rangers, that required a lot of juggling. And with the Christmas roster freeze beginning Friday, Sundin's procrastination made it all but impossible for the Rangers to accomodate him.

Instead he took the Vancouver offer, which is the kind of money a player gets when he can put a team over the top right away. Sundin isn't that guy and has never proven to be a difference maker, despite the near iconic status attached to him from his days in Toronto. Sundin is a big bodied cetner who is a 70- to 80- point type when he's healthy, and a class act who leads by example. Still he's never been an All Star or individual award winner, and through his 14 seasons in Toronto, he was unable to lead the Leafs to any notable achievements. To expect him to lift Vancouver now to the next level is unrealistic, just as it was to think Mark Messier could when he arrived there in the twilight of his career a decade ago.

Sundin will boost the Canucks offense and fit smoothly with fellow Swedes like the Sedin twins, which should help Vancouver in the battle for its division title. Still the road to a Stanley Cup from the West will most likely got through San Jose and/or Detroti, and few would argue Sundin is the missing piece get the Canucks there.

Fortunately for Vancouver, it has all kinds of salary cap space and can afford to take an expensive flyer, even if it lasts only for a few months. It might even be worth it to them. It will be to Sundin.

Category: NHL

Since: Sep 3, 2007
Posted on: December 20, 2008 12:47 am

Mats makes up his mind

I can't agree more that CBS has the worst hockey analasys of any major sports website...I don't know why I come here...I am going over to right now.

Since: Feb 26, 2008
Posted on: December 19, 2008 2:59 pm

Wes Goldstein is an idiot....

Dear Wes,

I am glad that you are able to have complete tunnel vision and are unable to look at factors other than money.  Allow me to help you out. 

Sure, the Vancouver Canucks put a lot of money on the table on July 1st and some might say it was a little much for a player of Mats age.  However, the Canucks stuck with it.  This is a player that they wanted and they never backed down.  I will agree that Mats waited a little too long to make a decision, but I think he chose the Canucks over the Rangers for a few other reasons.

1.  The Canucks are playing an exciting brand of hockey and are a competitive team (first in their division.).
2.  It is a team that is learning to win through adversity. (injured defencemen and an injured Luongo)
3.  18 of their first 29 games were on the road and they have some major homestands down the stretch with one eastern trip out of the way.
4.  Should Luongo come back in the next couple of weeks, they will have a premiere goalie that has had rougly two months of rest.  He has been used to being played waaay too much and he should be ready to make a major run in the spring.
5.  Vancouver's Cap management was much better than New York's.  He was able to join a team without forcing another member to leave.  He didn't want to cause commotion in the dressing room.
6.  Canada knows how to treat their hockey players.  There is nothing like playing in a Canadian market.

Hopefully this helps you Wes as your analysis of hockey is horrible.

Since: Aug 13, 2007
Posted on: December 19, 2008 10:55 am

Mats makes up his mind

Great job, Wes!  That's the finest Sundin Brett Favre article I've read in ages. :)

Since: Mar 13, 2007
Posted on: December 19, 2008 8:04 am

Mats makes up his mind

The analysis could be considered good, but his spell check and editor need to be fired...

I have always liked watching him play (even against the Sabres). He will help the team out but who knows how he is taken in the dressing room...

Since: May 10, 2007
Posted on: December 18, 2008 11:32 pm

Excellent Analysis

I like this analysis.  Sundin lifts Vancouver over Calgary & Minnesota for the Division title... then pffft.   He isn't the gunslinger to carry them through the playoffs.  As the article points out, he's never done that with any team he's been with. 

Since: Sep 24, 2008
Posted on: December 18, 2008 11:31 pm

Mats makes up his mind

Mats made up his mind where he was going to play months ago and I don't blame him on the choice he made. However,he did it all the wrong way.

He was told last trade deadline that he could be traded to Vancouver for some picks or for someone who could have helped the Leafs. A rental persay. But he stated that he would not do that because he would not join another team without starting with them.

I hope he does win a cup he deserves it for sure. And he will likely enjoy the huge salary but wait for February 21st my man!

Since: Jul 31, 2008
Posted on: December 18, 2008 11:25 pm
This comment has been removed.

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