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.
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.