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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The great 13

Possibly the best player to don the blue and white, that I myself actually had the pleasure to watch. Growing up watching hockey my dad was a Leafs fan, so that's what I watched when I was younger; Mats Sundin was pretty much the first hockey player I ever really knew about. Sundin wore the legendary maple leaf for 13 seasons and had the honour of being the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs for 11 seasons. I have the utmost respect for Sundin and is one of my all time favorite Leafs, and Saturday evening the Toronto Maple Leafs honoured their legendary captain by raising his banner to the rafters.
Sundin is arguably the best player to never have won a cup during his career, talk about a consistent scorer, in every season Sundin managed at least 70 points (except the 2008-2009 season with the Canucks when he retired) and finished with 1,349 points in 1,346 games. Who could forget Sundin's 500th goal? Shorthanded, in overtime, to complete the hat trick! But perhaps the most important thing the Leafs and Toronto got from having Sundin, is his class. He is a truly classy guy and an amazing role model. What an honour to see your number up in the rafters joining such names as: Wendel Clarke Borge Salming,  and Doug Gilmour.

Mats Sundin was originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in 1989, before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs 5 years later. He spent 13 seasons in Toronto becoming the Leafs all time leading scorer with 420 goals, and 987 points in 981 games. Despite never winning the cup here in Toronto (or in his career) Sundin said there were no regrets. "I wouldn't trade my years with the Leafs for anything," Sundin said. Despite having many amazing moments and memories in his time with the Leafs, his two favorite moments were: The Eastern Conference finals against the Buffalo Sabres in 1999 and the Eastern Conference finals in 2002 against the Carolina Hurricanes, both times the Leafs lost, but they put up an amazing fight. "I miss driving to the ACC with a little knot building up in my stomach before the game," he said. "But the No. 1 thing I miss being retired and not being in Toronto are the people. There are no fans more loyal, passionate and committed than Leafs fans. Thanks for all your support over the years."

Many of Sundin's former teammates were in attendance on Saturday to see the Leafs take on the Habs. Tie Domi, Bryan McCabe, Gary Roberts, Thomas Kaberle, were amongst the 19,000 at the game. Unfortunatly for the Leafs alumni and fans the Leafs didn't win the game, heck they didn't even show up to win and were boo'd off the ice after the 2nd period (down 4-0). The Habs easily beat the Leafs 5-0 and showed everyone that, this Leafs team may just be the same old team we've seen for the last 7 years. Flashes of brilliance, but when it really counts and there is pressure they fold up like a cheap tent!
Before the game, all the current Leafs players wore number 13 jerseys before the game, and Sundin said this current team has the potential to be the real deal. "I like this team," said Sundin. "They remind me of the team we had when we went to the conference final the first time. "We had a young group, good skaters, guys who could play, we could score with all four lines, good goaltending -- and I see all that here."

Some of Sundin's milestones include:

Drafted first overall in the 1989 NHL draft
First European born player to be drafted first overall

an Olympic gold medal in 2006 with team Sweden

scoring a career high 114 points in 1992-1993

making it to the conference finals (twice)

1300th career point february 7th 2008

500th goal October 14th 2006

Leads Leaf franchise with 420 goals and 984 assists

Named Olympic tournament all star team in 2002

NHL all star 9 times

Congratoulations to Mats Sundin, on having his number retired by the Leafs, and joining a list of 16 other elite Maple Leafs to have their number raised. Sundin will go down as one of the best Leafs ever and will forever be in the hearts of Leafs fans, no matter how ugly the last few years was and what not, he's still legendary and dedicated his whole career to the blue and white! We miss you Mats!

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