I knew a guy years ago who started every sentence with “you know what you should do.” The first 1,000 or so times you heard that it’s interesting, after that your mind begins to have automatic reactions (“No, I don’t. But I’ll tell you what YOU should do!”) followed quickly by open hostility.
I’m thinking Mats Sundin may be starting to feel that way about some members of the Toronto sports media. The number of articles that imply he should waive his no-trade contract for the good of the Toronto Maple Leafs reached a crescendo this morning with this article.
Steve Simmons has made his reputation in Candians sports media and there’s nothing I can do to damage it further. Having said that, I would like to post a few items from the article that strike me as completely unreasonable based on the facts before us:
- If Mats Sundin is to be taken at his word, that he truly bleeds blue and white, then in the best interests of the Maple Leafs he must act accordingly.
- He must waive the no-trade clause in his contract and allow Cliff Fletcher to trade him at the Feb. 26 deadline.
- That way, he can impact the next decade of the Leafs, just as he impacted the past decade.
- He must allow the Leafs to do what they haven’t been able to do since the lockout ended — and that is compete in the top half, not the bottom half, of the National Hockey League.
- He apparently is content not playing for a contender. He is content that his season ends in early April, rather than late June. He is, like too many of the Leafs, not terribly frustrated playing for a team that has fewer wins than any team in the NHL.
A few things:
- There’s not one damn thing Sundin MUST do. He negotiated with an NHL team in good faith, they gladly agreed to the NTC and therefore are bound by it.
- The idea that he has to fall on his sword to leave a legacy is crazy. He WILL leave a legacy, that of an impact forward who had a long run of impressive seasons in the deadball era and played at a very high level long after 95% of his draft year had retired.
- The Leafs being able to compete at the top end is what Sundin is all about, and in fact if they were any damn good now they’d be in a playoff spot. Sundin isn’t the problem, people.
- #5 is especially galling. Those of us who follow the NHL have to get over this idea that if you haven’t won a Stanley you’re not really worthy of the HOF or mention among the all-time best. When the league was 6 deep you just had to wait until getting traded to Toronto, Montreal or Detroit and hang around long enough and all would be well. The league is now 30 deep and although Sundin’s impact is impressive the Leafs have not been able to get to the SC final during his time there.
Here’s my advice to Leaf fans: enjoy Mats Sundin. He’s not the problem. Should he decide that he’d like to have a “Ray Bourque wins the Stanley (in Denver though)” chapter near the end of his career he’ll let you know.
He’s earned the right to call his own shots, and most certainly deserves fewer of them from the Toronto Sports Media. That group needs to step off.