He’s been the biggest story in the NHL this season. Once he signs, the biggest story will become what he failed to do for either the Vancouver Canucks or New York Rangers. After all, both teams are looking to an aging, self-doubting player to bring them to the promised land, identifying him as a saving grace. It might just be my personal opinion, but the only thing that Mats Sundin will be saving this year is the Canadiens, from spending a lot of money on a player who doesn’t necessarily have the desire to play, let alone win.
The holidays in Montreal won’t come with cheers for Mats Sundin, as yet another unrestricted free agent chooses someone else over the Habs. Gainey’s honest efforts weren’t received in light of an obscene offer from the Vancouver Canucks, and one from the New York Rangers that we can only assume will turn this entire story into a mockery (as if it weren’t one already).
And what of the player who told everyone he’d finish his career as a Toronto Maple Leaf? The very same player who said he’d never come back in the middle of a season, and that the concept of playing with a team from training camp to season’s closing was the only one he’d adhere to. The same player who said he’d have a decision made in September…
Will he give Canadiens fans a reason? Will the Vancouver Canucks represent a chance for him to win, or a chance for him to be on a better team than Toronto, play with some Swedish friends, and make enough money to laugh his way towards retirement? Will a New York Rangers team that has to trade a major component just to fit him under the cap be a better option?
Though Canadiens fans are likely disappointed, they should be relieved. To think the New York Rangers are possibly considering moving a Stanley Cup winner like Scott Gomez, to add Sundin…The Rangers, who rank 27th in the league in goals against 5 on 5, will try to improve their team by changing around the offense.
Mark this date on the calendar, and celebrate it as the day you got to move on from Mats Sundin. He jerked the Canadiens around from the trade deadline, through June, and then a little more over the last two months. He’s a true Maple Leaf at heart…allow him to bring that winning culture to someone else.