Last Days of the Sundin Era?
No Leaf captain has retired in a Toronto uniform as captain since George Armstrong.
Now, we'll find out if Mats Sundin will be the latest to wear the "C" and be shunted out of town before he hangs 'em up.
Dave Keon, Darryl Sittler, Rick Vaive, Rob Ramage, Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour all captained the Leafs, but were sent packing for something that was supposed to be better at the time. In Keon's case, he was just allowed to leave to the WHA, although he would have preferred a trade to Long Island. Clark and Gilmour, of course, both played their last NHL games for the Leafs, but neither was wearing the "C" at the time.
Does it matter if Sundin gets to retire as a Leaf? The reality is, that is almost a quaint concept in an era in which money and contracts dictate where players play as much as loyalty or anything else.
TSN is reporting today that Leaf interim GM Cliff Fletcher has asked Sundin for a list of teams he would considering waiving his no-trade clause to join. The Star's Kevin McGran, meanwhile, confirmed with Fletcher that he had met with both Sundin's agent, J.P. Barry, and Bryan McCabe today. While 29 other teams would be good fits, it's almost impossible to guess which Sundin might actually select, if any.
Anaheim and Detroit, of course, are top teams, but would he want to go to either city? Peter Forsberg didn't.
Vancouver has the Sedin twins, Matthias Ohlund and Markus Naslund, so there's lots of Swedish content there. But would that in and of itself attract the Leaf captain, particularly given he's played his entire career in the east?
It seems unlikely Ottawa would even get a chance to bid on Sundin. But what about Montreal, given that Sundin did once play in Quebec City.
And if he's really considering re-signing with the Leafs again in the summer even if he's traded away, you'd have to figure he'd prefer not to go too far.
It's all a total guessing game. As it's been for months.
Still, with Atlanta tomorrow night or a visit to Ottawa on Monday looming as possibly Sundin's last game in a Leaf uniform, speculation is about to reach a fever pitch. And I don't hear Fletcher denying that he's trying to move the big fella by Tuesday.