First and foremost, we are Oilers fans. We’re used to high-priced talent being shipped out of town because of their forthcoming contract increases, or in worst-case scenarios, demanding to be traded.
So we have to take a step back when we’re looking at the Mats Sundin saga in Toronto. Sundin currently makes $5.5 million, and is an RFA at the end of the season. He was asked to remove his no-trade clause as the deadline neared, so that Toronto could move him out for some prospects. There was a lot of interest in Sundin, and rightfully so. Over the past few years, the bald bastard has been remarkably consistent, at 30 goals and 70 points per season.
There are a variety of teams that would love to bring him into the fold as a rental for the playoffs regardless of where he signs. Tdot could have received some decent picks and prospects and immediately improved, much like Kevin Lowe did when he traded Smyth last year at the deadline. Had Smyth returned to the Oilers fold and signed a long-term deal, Lowe would have looked like a genius, with Robert Nilsson, Ryan O’Marra and Alex Plante coming the Oils way and Smyth coming home a few short months later. But bridges were burned, tears were shed by all. Now Smyth lies knocked into oblivion with a concussion and separated shoulder out indefinitely somewhere in Denver, miles from home where he belongs.
A scenario in TO, where Sundin would have been traded for prospects and then returned to the fold, could have been easily executed, even by a fossil like Cliff Fletcher. In the past couple of weeks, Sundin’s refusal to leave town has been denounced by some and praised by others. The “brain trust” at TSN ran an impartial piece on the subject this morning, calling Sundin a hero for refusing a trade. They didn’t report on the flip side of the issue at all, but it’s worth discussing.
What makes a guy a hero for refusing to help his team? Sundin could have easily returned to the fold in the offseason, and helped the Leafs immensely in the short run. He could have also picked any Cup contender in the league had he wanted to become a rental—much like Doug Weight did in 2006 by leaving St. Louis, only to return a few months later to spend another season and a half as a Blue.
In our opinion—which means more to you than every sportscaster and news reporter combined—Mats Sundin is a lazy bum. He doesn’t want to be traded from TO even for 20 games, even if it meant he could return and even if he could have a Cup run in the meantime. This guy is 37 years old and hasn’t had a sniff at the Cup; one would think that he would want to have a run at one sooner or later.
Sundin hurt the Leafs in the short term by refusing to be traded, and greatly reduces his chances of winning a Cup in the long run. He could play for the Leafs until he is 77 and he won’t sip champagne from Lord Stanley’s silver cleavage. Not with the team they’re sporting over there.