To keep Sundin...
And the Sundin camp seems satisfied with Ferguson's offer that will maintain his status as the highest-paid Leaf. It's believed Sundin will agree to a two-year deal worth at least $11.5 million (all figures U.S.) – the same average salary as defenceman Bryan McCabe.At 36, Mats Sundin remains the face of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it would be shocking series of events for that to change this summer.
Sticking with the tried and true, the popular veterans, despite how the team performs on the ice, has been the Leafs' way for decades, and the franchise has mortgaged its future more than once — most famously, perhaps, in 1996 when the rights to the fourth-overall pick (that was to become Roberto Luongo) were dealt in order to bring back an aged Wendel Clark — in search of former glories.
Sundin's a terrific player, and last season, he was the best of the Leafs. But 2006-07 will be his thirteenth consecutive season in the blue and white, and the team will be within $10- to $12-million of the salary cap with him signed at $5.75-million.
Can you add another goaltender, replace the contributions of Mike Peca, Jeff O'Neill, Bates Battaglia and Yanic Perreault, and add the requisite parts to take this team from ninth in the Eastern Conference to the point where it can compete with Ottawa and Buffalo for $10- to $12-million?
The answer's probably no. And it can't be worth hanging on for a few more "glory years" if they'll be spent scratching and clawing to make the playoffs.
But Sundin will continue to sell tickets and jerseys, and the front office can avoid dealing with the deluge that moving him would unleash in this city. To keep Sundin is certainly the easy move, given he's the latest favourite son, but is it the right move?
It is if you're in the business of turning a player into a brand name into a condo development into a pension fund.
- UPDATE Sundin stays in Toronto [The Globe and Mail]