Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Mats Sundin

The One Question Left About the Leafs This Season

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs trade captain Mats Sundin?

A slew of stories about this can be found (at least at this moment) here, here, here, and here:

The furor over a possible trade of Mats Sundin persisted for a third day yesterday, with the Toronto Maple Leafs' captain patiently explaining — yet again — why he would rather finish his NHL career with the Leafs than accept a trade to a Stanley Cup contender.

First, he considers himself a loyal Maple Leaf and wants to stay with the team. Second, he still thinks the Leafs have a good chance to make the playoffs, despite their struggles. Third, he considers Toronto his home and wants to stay there. Fourth, and this may be the most significant reason, even at 36 with his hockey career winding down, Sundin would not feel comfortable going to another team for a couple of months, even if the payoff would be his first Stanley Cup.

Sundin, like always, has said the right things to his teammates, his fans and this city. But he needs to do act the right way and that is to accept a trade.

The Leafs will not make the playoffs this season. And the team might not make the playoffs next season with or without Sundin. The team needs to stop pretending it doesn't have to rebuild.

Since the lockout, the Leafs' previous formula for success has been to buy free agents to band aid the team. That doesn't work anymore.

The team needs to simply accept the fact that the current roster will not win the Stanley Cup any time soon, and it's time to trade assets. And other than Tomas Kaberle and perhaps Nik Antropov, the Leafs have one asset that can bring more than one average prospect back to the club: Sundin.

It hurts because Sundin is my favourite Leaf. But now is the time to make the deal.


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