Mats Sundin’s #13 banner was raised to the rafters of the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday night, and it made me think back to his time in Vancouver. Sundin, as you might remember, spent half a season in blue and green during the 2008-09 season. The Mats Sundin that Canucks fans got to see, at age 38, wasn’t of hall of fame caliber but he wasn’t a bust either.
Sundin struggled initially in Vancouver, trying to get back into game shape. He finished the regular season with only 28 points in 41 games, playing on the Canucks second line. But I get annoyed with anyone who compares Sundin to Mark Messier, whom the Canucks signed in 1997. The Messier experiment was a complete disaster, as the Canucks did anything but flourish with #11 in the lineup. The team under Messier’s leadership became divided early on, and was promptly dismantled after the arrival of the Moose. Messier was brought in to be the Canucks’ captain, first line centre and help lead the team to a Stanley Cup. Instead, they were one of the worst teams in the NHL. Sundin, on the other hand, was brought in to be the Canucks’ second line centre, and bolster their team for a long playoff run.
Mats Sundin’s regular season numbers weren’t exactly eye popping, but it was in the playoffs where Sundin showed his true value. I think a lot of people forget that Sundin played his best hockey as a Canuck in the playoffs. Sundin put up 8 points in 8 games, putting him behind only Daniel and Henrik Sedin on the team. Sundin’s best game was probably game 6 versus Chicago in the second round, which might have been remembered more glowingly in these parts had Roberto Luongo been able to stop a puck in the third period.
Perhaps the real legacy of Mats Sundin was what he taught his teammates. It has been said that he encouraged Ryan Kesler to shoot the puck more (it seems hard to remember a time where Kesler didn’t love shooting the puck now), and perhaps Kesler is better for it. Many people around the Canucks organization have said that Sundin was a good influence in terms of showing his teammates how he prepares for games. The following season, Daniel and Henrik Sedin rose to superstardom and Ryan Kesler became a Selke Trophy finalist. Nobody knows for certain if Sundin helped them reach that status, but it’s certainly plausible. And for that reason, the Sundin experiment was a success.
The Toronto Maple Leafs raised Mats Sundin's No. 13 to the rafters at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday.The longtime Maple Leafs captain had his number officially retired in pregame ceremony before the Maple Leafs faced the Montreal Canadiens.The Swede played 13 seasons in Toronto and is the 18th player to have his number retired by the team.Sundin is the Maple Leafs' franchise...
from NHL.com, Mats Sundin thanked his family, teammates, coaches and the fans of Toronto before a banner honoring his No. 13 was raised to the rafters of the Air Canada Centre prior to the Maple Leafs’ game against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
The Leafs also honored Sundin, the franchise’s all-time leader in goals (420) and points (987) by having all of their players...
Via Tonight's Healthy Scratches
February 12, 2012
Both Mats Sundin (Toronto) and Jeremy Roenick (Phoenix) were honored by their former teams last night, as each had their number retired by their respective teams.
Sundin, who played 13 season with the Maple Leafs, had his No. 13 raised high to the rafters of the Air Canada Centre, prior to the Leafs contest with the Montreal Canadiens.
Over his 13 seasons in Toronto, the former...
Carey Price turned aside 32 shots, and the Montreal Canadiens hammered Toronto 5-0 on Saturday night after the Maple Leafs retired the number of longtime former captain Mats Sundin. It was the third straight loss for the Maple Leafs, who remained in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Montreal has won four in a row and is seven points back of the postseason cutoff.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star, Despite the injuries, the Flames knocked off high-flying Vancouver in a shootout on Saturday night and have lost only two of their last 10. The Leafs turned Mats Sundin Appreciation Night into an unholy disaster against Montreal, and just 10 days after seeming to make an emphatic statement by hammering the Senators in Ottawa, they are now again...
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