Nothing Has Changed
It's dangerous to listen to anybody but Mats Sundin when it comes to Sundin's hockey future.
Most everyone other than the man himself believes he's going to play this season, including his agent, despite the fact Sundin has never said any such thing. People seem to believe his absence from the game is similar to Ken Dryden's one-year absence from the crease of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970s, that he'll be back simply because he's good enough to be back.
Since this all began last spring, I've only heard the sounds of a player who wants to retire, but can't quite bring himself to officially call it a day. He doesn't know if he can do it anymore, or wants to do it anymore. Perhaps unsaid is a desire not to do a Scott Niedermayer or a Brett Favre, not to retire and then unretire months later.
In an intriguing interview with The Star's Rosie Dimanno, Sundin continues to sound that way, at least to these ears. Interestingly, he indicated that while his family wants him to play and his agent wants him to play, he doesn't necessarily want to play.
Look, folks, this is a tough league to play in, and nearly impossible unless you're really into it. It's a difficult grind, and the demands of being the captain in Toronto are heavy.
The demands of being a significant player in New York or Montreal are pretty heavy as well.
Since this all started, I've urged people to listen to what Sundin says, not to media pundits or close friends. Don't imagine that dropping the puck in Stockholm or going to see his doctor means anything unless Sundin says it does. Far from enjoying all the conversation about his future, he likely wishes people would just imagine he was on a trip to Mars until he chooses to re-join the hockey fray. He's never wavered, and now he's certainly not saying his misses the game or the competition or the comaraderie.
He's always sounded like a guy who wants to retire, and never like a player who is dying to play again.
He just doesn't have the heart to break it to people.