Posted 9:59 AM ET | Comments 11
I was reading through Ek's blog and the comments left by many people concerning Mats Sundin's desire to stay in Toronto and I couldn't help but think so many people are mis guided.
The number of "Mats is selfish", "Mats is not thinking of the team", "Mats is an idiot" etc type replies was very alarming and extremely disappointing to me.
Assuming that what Sundin said in his statements over the past two days is true - and given his past conduct and reputation for being one of the classiest guys in the NHL, there is no reason to believe otherwise - I find it completely detestible that so many "FANS" could berate Sundin for wanting to stay in Toronto.
I tried to imagine a similar scenario with Mario Lemieux. I realize that things are a little different - Mario won two cups with the Pens and went through a lot of adversity health wise - but I could not imagine if Mario was in the same situation - and made the same decision - that the fans in Pittsburgh would do anything but embrace him even more. We may not be the hockey town that Toronto is, but we do have a loyal hockey following...and one thing we respect is the loyalty a player shows to his team.
I realize that the Leafs are in a tough situation...probably out of the playoffs again and they have too many veteran players with NTCs that won't waive them (all of which is a management issue). So, with Sundin being the most "desireable" player on the roster, the quick fix for all that ails the Leafs appears to be trading the big guy for a nice return of players and or picks...with the intent on resigning him in the off season. Really, I get all of that.
But if Sundin really feels that he can't do it...for the reasons he stated (and this is not some type pf ploy to get a better deal for the team), then how can the Leafs Nation not simply say "OK Mats, we respect your decision and we are honored by your loyalty to the Leafs."
I know one thing...I would take this guy in a Penguin uniform in a second (make that a nano second). There are a number of teams that would take him in that same time frame.
But see this for what it really is. We base this on what we see when he plays with the Leafs. We think of him in that same way with our club.
BUT - Mats is saying - in every word and action - that he would not be capable of doing this with ANOTHER club. He would NOT BE THE SAME Mats Sundin in that scenario. Part of what makes him the player that he is, is playing for the Leafs.
If all of that is true, then you have to just see this situation through better eyes. And if you can't do that...and stand on your feet and cheer the next time he takes the ice for a home game, then maybe you don't deserve to have him on your team.
I leave you with these two quotes I found from a 2003 interview with Sundin. On this day in 2008, I don't think he would answer any differently than he did back then:
Qualities most admired in people: "Honesty is the biggest thing I admire, respect, and look for. And it's something that's kind of disappearing in some people nowadays."
Future ambitions: "Winning a Stanley Cup for Toronto, that's the biggest dream and the biggest goal."