While, I'm not an overly big fan of the no trade clause, it does afford the bearer of such a clause the right to say no, just as Redden did last week. But, let’s make no mistake about it; there is a marked difference in the situation surrounding Wade Redden versus that of Mats Sundin. Wade Redden is much closer to winning a cup in Ottawa than Mats is in Toronto. Redden has said that he believes the Senators can win a cup this year and he wants to be part of that journey. That’s perfectly fine with me. He’s been with this team for several years now but has been part of the process that has built this team from a doormat to a legitimate contender.
The ‘journey’ was also mentioned in an article in the Toronto Sun yesterday, one referring to the Maple Leafs seasons of 1999 and 2002 when they made it to the Conference Finals. Mats was quoted as saying that it’s not only because of the trophy but also about the journey – working as a team, and doing that over the course of an entire season. The author suggests that this might be a possible reason for Mats wanting to stay in Toronto. Ok, I can understand that. Under the rent-a-player scenario, you haven’t built up the relationships over the course of a full season, gone through difficult times of injuries, worked together towards a common goal for an extended period of time. I’m sure that winning a cup that you’ve been working towards for a number of seasons with the same core group would certainly be very meaningful.
But, now it’s time to get real. To quote myself from something I’ve said to my children several times over the past few years, “How long will you beat your head against the wall before you ask for help?” I don’t need to explain myself to them any more. They know exactly what I mean now. There’s only so long you can stay the course before something needs to change.
With the exception of the 1999 and 2002 season, the recent Leafs have been a very mediocre team, basically treading water to stay afloat long enough to reach a life raft; beating their heads against the wall so to speak. To run the course on a journey that’s going nowhere is fruitless. The Senators, on the other hand, have gone from the life raft to a luxury liner with a crew in the bridge that has the course set for the cup.
So, is it better to win the cup as part of the team that’s built towards something over the course of a few years, to just win the cup in any scenario or to remain faithful to a lacklustre group that won’t win the cup at all? After all, Mats is 37 now. By the way, Happy Birthday Mats.
My answer to this is that when people look back on the career of any great player, the subject of a championship always rises. Player A won the cup X number of times they’ll say. When the introduction is done at the Hall of Fame ceremonies – which Mats will be taking part in one day – they always mention the cup. This is not limited to hockey. Dan Marino still has the blemish of never winning a Superbowl. Peyton Manning was well on his way until he got his last year. Maybe this year it’s time for Mats.
And, if you think that you can’t get satisfaction from winning the cup by not being part of the journey, just check out the pictures of Ray Bourque when he won the cup in Colorado.