The Sundin sets in Toronto

Good for Mats Sundin.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans are waking up to the news this morning that team captain Mats Sundin has opted not to waive his no-trade clause, remaining a Maple Leaf.

As usual, Maple Leafs fans will become distraught. They will call Sundin selfish when really, he just made the classiest move I’ve seen a professional athlete make in a long time.

We all know there’s no pleasing Maple Leafs Nation, but most fans would kill to have the kind of team loyalty that Sundin has shown.

I don’t just mean NHL teams either. Professional sports teams all over the world exist for decades at a time without seeing that type of love from a player.

In a statement made by Sundin he said he wanted to stay in Toronto because “I cannot leave my teammates and join another NHL Club at this time. I have never believed in the concept of a rental player. It is my belief that winning the Stanley Cup is the greatest thing you can achieve in hockey but for me, in order to appreciate it you have to have been part of the entire journey and that means October through June.”

You hear that, Leafs Nation?

Your captain wants to go down with the ship. He’d rather spend the last month of the season at the bottom of the standings with his teammates than fighting for a Stanley Cup.

I sure hope Leafs fans can appreciate the rarity of what they have here. The most beloved athlete (aside from Jamario Moon) in a city that nearly burned itself down in anger over the selfish antics of Vince Carter and Curtis Joseph, just said “I love you, too.”

Has anyone listened to sports talk radio recently?

Sports fans in and out of Toronto litter the airwaves with cliches like “Players play for the name on the back of their jersey, not the front,” or “Back when I was growing up, athletes cared about the game, not about the money.”

Sundin’s decision was hardly about money, but at 37, he may have just passed up his last opportunity at a Cup.

Obviously, from a business vantage point, big Mats may have cost his team a good draft pick or some skilled young players, but take a good long look at the Leafs roster and payroll.

That rebuilding process is a long way from being done. So why not keep around the franchise’s all-time leading scorer for a few more games?

I’ve also heard some Leafs fans batting around the notion that the team should take the “C” away from Sundin for not acting in the best interest of the organization.

Really?

Leafs fans and the Toronto media alike love to speak before thinking, but this one may take the cake. I know its not the popular opinion amongst the Buds faithful, but the idea is out there. I’ve read about it enough to make me feel sorry for Leafs Nation.

Even as a Washington Redskins fan, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered that level of fan ignorance.

Instead of taking away the captaincy, Paul Maurice ought to give Sundin another “C” to put on his other shoulder, and maybe an “A” that will fit in between the 1 and 3 on his back.

Never has a captain been more of a captain than Mats Sundin was Sunday evening.

I’ve been lucky enough to have players like Cal Ripken, Olie Kolzig and Darrell Green play for the teams I love, and class doesn’t come any classier than those three guys, but I’d still consider myself lucky to have a player as honorable as Mats Sundin play in my city.

If Leafs fans can’t recognize than, then shame on them.

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5 Comments

Filed under hockey, sports

5 responses to “The Sundin sets in Toronto

  1. mats

    was it really that much of a surprise? they made him make a last minute decision and he took the safe bet. i don’t think that it was necessarily the classiest move in professional sports history either. selfish? not necessarily. but comfortable for Mats. he gets to take his summer vacation in April, just as he has the past few years. i might do the same thing. a nice, long, relaxing summer vacation sounds nice, it would be even nicer if it were an annual thing (much like Mats is used to). but then again, i might take a crack at the cup and a big bonus. i mean it’s not gonna happen anytime soon in TO.

  2. stan

    Great article. AS a lifelong leaf fan I have been indifferent on this entire situation coming almost to tears on Saturday night when I thought it was Mats’ last game and being mildly upset when I found out he wasn’t waiving his no trade. In the end I get to watch my favourite athlete of all time for another 20 games as I prepare for a five year abyss of crap with this team. Don’t listen to what the beat writers and talk radio callers have to say they are completely irrational and don’t reflect whatsoever the feelings of most leaf fans. These are the same people who have been pushing for the team to get rid of him for years despite the fact that he has for more than a decade been everything that you could want from the leader of your team. Oh and Scott Burnside is a tool.

  3. That boy needs a good babysittin’.

  4. Rumblestripes

    Hey nice article. What about rumblestipes on Wootton Parkway?

  5. SD

    No matter what Sundin did he was going to be criticized. I cannot be angry with Sundin. Sure, it seemed like a good idea – trade him away for the rest of the season, get some good bodies back, and then re-join the team. But I respect his wishes because he has been nothing but classy and productive since joining the Leafs. They owe him. He does not owe them. At the same time I find it a bit unusual that he would choose to stay, but I accept it because of who he is. He is steadfastly loyal, that is why he has stuck with this crappy team and organization for so long. We value loyalty, don’t we? I want to see Sundin retire as a Leaf. He is the only real bright spot in the organization. If he did move the Leafs would probably screw up the trade anyway.

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