Leafs add four Hall-of-Famers to Alumni Showdown including Sundin, Nieuwendyk

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com
Nieuwendyk (left) and Sundin (right) are in. (Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs' Alumni Showdown roster got a lot stronger on Thursday. That's what happens when you add four Hall-of-Famers to your lineup.

The Leafs obviously have a lot of history and big names in their past and they are getting the chance to show it off. On Thursday the names Mats Sundin, Joe Nieuwendyk, Borje Salming and Frank Mahovlich were added to their growing list. Holy smokes, that's some star power.

Sundin was inducted into the Hall just this summer so he's a fresh member to the elite class, but he's part of it. He was nearly a career-long member of the Leafs, playing the unfortunate role as a great player on a not-so-great team. For years he was the face of the franchise and any Alumni Game involving the Leafs without Sundin would just seem wrong.

It was just the cherry on top of the sundae that was Thursday for Sundin.

Then you have Nieuwendyk, inducted into the Hall of Fame last summer. You could be faulted for forgetting that he ever even played for the Leafs. He spent just one season (2003-04) in Toronto, playing just 64 games. It came at the twilight of his career (he played two more seasons with the Panthers before retiring). It makes you wonder if there shouldn't be some minimum-games/seasons requirement to be part of the alumni team. Then again, it would be cruel to deny a guy like Nieuwendyk the chance to play in a Winter Classic Alumni Game. Calgary and Dallas don't seem like the likeliest candidates to be involved in a Classic anytime soon.

Salming is the all-time leading scorer for defensemen in Leafs history and like Sundin was born in Sweden. He had 148 goals and 620 assists in 1,099 games before being inducted into the Hall in 1996.

Lastly is Mahovlich, who was part of the last Stanley Cup team in Toronto back in 1967. In fact, he won four Cups with the Leafs before winning two more with the Canadiens later in his career. He was enshrined into the Hall in 1981.

The Red Wings, meanwhile, added a few players to their list, too. Petr Kilma, Dallas Drake, Garry Unger and Paul Ysebaert were announced as part of the roster for the Wings.

Now is the time for your usual disclaimer: This is all contingent on a Winter Classic actually happening. Should the season be started in time for the game not to be canceled, the Alumni Showdown will consist of two games this time given the rich history of the two franchises in the game. They will be held on Dec. 31 at Detroit's Comerica Park, home of baseball's Tigers.

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