Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Myth of Sisyphus

As a punishment from the gods for his trickery, Sisyphus was compelled to roll a huge rock up a steep hill, but before he reached the top of the hill, the rock always escaped him and he had to begin again.
I always liked and respected Mats Sundin, even long before I moved to Toronto. Now living here, I've got a whole new respect for the big Swede.

And not so much for what he does on the ice, which has certainly been considerable this season, despite where the Maple Leafs are in the standings. No, the truly amazing and/or admirable thing about Sundin is that he can answer to the same inane line of questioning, over and over, and never lose his grin.

I would have carted myself to the funny farm by now, and told them to throw away the key.

The 'will they deal Sundin' business entered Round 147 on Wednesday night, despite the fact that, well, nothing happened. The trade deadline is 47 days away (!) and even after an awful, 2-7-2 skid that continued against Anaheim, Toronto's still in the mix.

Everyone is, in fact. (Minus the Kings.)

Even after essentially standing still the past two weeks, the Maple Leafs are only five points from eighth place, and 11 from second, and given the current 'points for everyone' format in the league, it's awfully tough to fall too far off the pace. Twenty games from now, it seems all but certain they'll be in the same place they've been all year, trying desperately to get those few extra points.

Should the Leafs trade Sundin? Probably. Heck, they probably should have done so last season at the trade deadline, when teams went bonkers and tossed prospects overboard simply to eke into the postseason and meekly exit in Round 1 (Hello Islanders, Nashville and Atlanta!)

Just look at how well Braydon Coburn's played in Philadelphia this season, less than a year after being swapped for the overpaid Alexei Zhitnik.

But (a) Sundin has a no-trade clause and wants to stay and (b) GM John Ferguson has one last gasp to turn this into a playoff team and he can't exactly do so after dealing the captain for futures.

The only way he goes anywhere, then, is if Toronto's well off the pace, ownership gives Ferguson some security and Sundin agrees to the move.

It ain't happening. And even if that unlikely scenario was to occur, something I'd put in the 1- to 5-per-cent probability range, why on earth are we speculating about it seven weeks in advance?

Wednesday morning, Sundin was in the papers. In the afternoon, on the radio, he was going through yet another round of saying how much he liked playing for the Leafs and that he had no plans to leave. At night, TSN broadcast the Colorado-Washington game, but the intermission and postgame conversation was Sundin filled.
Today, Sisyphean can be used as an adjective meaning that an activity is unending and/or repetitive. It could also be used to refer to tasks that are pointless and unrewarding.
Sundin says he loves Toronto and wants to stay — but I can't help but think that makes him perfect for the funny farm.
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10 Comments:

At 2:17 AM, January 10, 2008, Anonymous Seth Rorabaugh said...

Honest to God, when I first logged on, I thought this was a post about rumors he had syphilis.

 
At 3:08 AM, January 10, 2008, Blogger Rand said...

How many times now has he said he won't waive his NTC?
It's the same rumours now we had 3yrs ago. Which is the same we had in the late 90's.

The guy has probably recorded himself sayng he enjoys playing in Toronto, believes in the team and doesn't want to go elsewhere to win a cup.
It's getting such that every week we here this pretty much, and every week he says the same thing.

One of these years I wish the media would just accept the fact that Sundin has made it blatantly clear innumerable times he will not waive his NTC.
If Toronto wants to get rid of him then they can refuse to sign him as an UFA, because trading him isn't an option.

I can't say as I understand his position, and I doubt I'd have stuck there were I in his shoes.
But regardless, this will play out as is always does.
He'll remind us into perpetuity about his NTC, and everyone will continue to blissfully ignore it.

 
At 6:48 AM, January 10, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

While I agree it's pointless to keep asking him about it, I find it very unlikely that he wouldn't waive his NTC. When was the last time a player publicly refused a trade, at least to a contender? The NTC gives a player some control, but few people want to stick around where they're not wanted.

Sundin has no kids; a trade would basically mean a long road trip with new teammates.

 
At 9:52 AM, January 10, 2008, Anonymous kopitarian said...

When the title came up on my RSS reader and the line, "As a punishment from the gods for his trickery." I though for a moment, well he must be talking about Marc Crawford!

 
At 10:10 AM, January 10, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. Like a breath a fresh air for the person who likes a daily dose of hockey reading, but doesn't necessarily want to read the same story ad nauseum.

 
At 10:46 AM, January 10, 2008, Blogger Chemmy said...

As a Leafs fan I love Sundin. I hope the Leafs make a smart move, but trading Sundin for anything less than a king's ransom isn't going to sit well in Toronto. It might be what Toronto needs. Deal an aging veteran for some high draft picks and prospects and just start rebuilding, since this "on the fly" rebuild obviously sucked.

 
At 11:59 AM, January 10, 2008, Blogger Robster said...

Trading Sundin would be a mistake. What good will those first round picks do for the Leafs when they don't have a competent scouting department?

 
At 12:43 PM, January 10, 2008, Blogger Godd Till said...

The 'Leafs can't scout' is a bit of a canard. Recently they've picked several guys who look good (Pogge, Rask, Tlusty, Wellwood, Kuleimin) despite crappy position. There problem lately isn't who they've picked, its been trading away the picks and prospects.

 
At 12:59 PM, January 10, 2008, Anonymous penaltyshots.ca said...

Trading Sundin is like cutting off your leg because you have sore toes. Why don't they trade all the garbage that surrounds him for picks instead? It isn't Mats holding back this team. Just because trading Sundin is easiest doesn't mean it should be done. What good are picks if they have to play with Blake, Wellwood, Tucker, McCabe, Ponikarovsky, Kubina, and etc?

 
At 8:14 AM, January 11, 2008, Anonymous MikeP said...

Because nobody else wants those guys either?

 

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