Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sundin says 'no'

"I cannot leave my teammates and join another NHL Club at this time. I have never believed in the concept of a rental player. It is my belief that winning the Stanley Cup is the greatest thing you can achieve in hockey but for me, in order to appreciate it you have to have been part of the entire journey and that means October through June. I hope everyone will understand and respect my decision."
There are going to be some who hold it against Sundin that he won't take a turn as a rental, go to another team and re-sign this summer in Toronto. On some level, that's the move that would most help the Maple Leafs.

But a no-trade clause is what it is, and this was always a very real possibility. I'm actually surprised Sundin even considered waiving it, given his position all season has been that he didn't intend to go anywhere. And now that he's turned down the request, you wonder what sort of contract he'll sign for next season, how much it'll be for and if the clause is called for once again.

Because from the looks of the Leafs' roster at the moment, missing the postseason next year remains a distinct possibility.

Toronto has 18 players under contract for next season at a total of a little more than $43-million; barring some unforeseen deadline magic by Cliff Fletcher, that doesn't leave them a heckuva lot of maneuvering room next year.

Bring back Sundin for somewhere in the neighbourhood of $5-million, and what's left to accomplish?

How is this team better off next season?


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At 12:20 a.m., February 25, 2008, Anonymous Shnork Souin said...

I was very angry to read the news that Mats et al have rejected waiving the no trade clauses. As much as Mats Sundin is against the rental player idea, Leaf management ought to have been against allowing an employee to negotiate a contract that would have handcuffed them this way. Trades have always been part of hockey and until last year have been made far later in the season (March) than now. Mats acts like 37 is too old for a career change, yet in the real world, many people change jobs and move to not only other companies and cities, but to other countries much later in life in pursuit of work.
While many might have thought that the rejection of waiving the no trade was going to be disastrous to Toronto, Mats Sundin may have actually done Leaf Nation a favor if management is bold enough to respond to his free excercise of his contractual rights.
Since Toronto has won absolutley nothing up to now with Mats Sundin as captain and team leader, and it is now abudantly very clear that he will never and has unwittingly demonstrated that he desires never to be a champion in the NHL and that the team will not only be no better next year but probably worse, in the end, he might have actually made sure that the Leafs get a real crack at John Tavares in 2009.
This would be something that Leaf Nation can get very excited about except for the lousy team that they can be assured of enduring next season.
To make this happen, the reaction by the Leafs and management to Sundin's rightful choice should only be business related for the good of the Leafs, if in fact that is what Fletcher was hired for. What they now need to do, as painful as it is, is to assure the best possible draft this year, and to sit Sundin, limit his ice time, put him on the second or third line and keep him on the power play since it has produced nothing with him all season anyway. They ought to play Clemmenson (or if they are real daring, Raycroft). Thirdly, they need to be bold enough to refrain from the urge to sign Sundin this summer for 2008-9. Say "NO" to him as he did to them.
If he hates the idea of playing on another team so much, he can retire the "best" Leaf ever (who has won nothing and never will--then the Leafs can give him a job as an assistent to Wendell Clark or Darryl Sittler doing whatever it is that they do???).
Fourthly, they ought to move any of these "studs" through waivers if they can (I don't totally understand the rules with the CBA) and free up cap space as much as possible, especially in the case of Kubina who can legally be moved out this summer.
In the end, if the hockey gods have any sense of justice and or mercy on the foolishness of JFJ, the Leafs will get Stamkos this summer and Tavares next.

At 12:47 a.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger RudyKelly said...

Good for him. I think he's earned the right to decide how the rest of his career plays out. If Rob Blake doesn't waive his no trade clause, however, I might just have to write a mean blog about him on the internet. Take that, Bowlby!

At 1:19 a.m., February 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mats et al. have every right to hold on to their clauses.

Just as Fletcher has every right to put each and every one of them on waivers, buy them out, or demote them to the minors. I hope Fletch has the balls to do what is right for the organization, as his players seem to have the balls to do what is best for themselves only.

At 1:54 a.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

Just as Fletcher has every right to put each and every one of them on waivers, buy them out, or demote them to the minors.

Fletch is gonna put a still-productive 500G scorer on waivers? The Leafs' owners are going to pay Sundin, McCabe, et al, millions of dollars to play in the minors or sit on the end of the bench to "teach them a lesson"?

In the cap age, no-trade and no-movement clauses will soon be the norm rather than the exception. Same with 12, 15, 20-year deals.

Management will do what it takes to sign guys under the cap. Players will do what it takes to bring money and stability to their families.

One can hardly complain when a player declines to waive his rights under a mutually agreed-to contract.

Nobody pointed a gun at the Leafs' brass when those contracts were signed.

At 1:56 a.m., February 25, 2008, Anonymous scott said...

it gets ugly quick, doesn't it. I'm not looking forward to seeing Mats' name dragged through the mud by Simmons and company tomorrow morning.

At 2:11 a.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger Kel said...

Good suggestions by shnork souin. Show to the rest of the hockey world that this is the kind of treatment players receive in Toronto and we'll see that how much they'll have to pay to actually sign someone. You know, what Edmonton went though last summer, plenty of cap space and money yet no free agent would want to sign no matter how much money was offered.

At 2:36 a.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger Mat said...

Fletch is gonna put a still-productive 500G scorer on waivers? The Leafs' owners are going to pay Sundin, McCabe, et al, millions of dollars to play in the minors or sit on the end of the bench to "teach them a lesson"?

Ya it would be a shame to lose that productivity and risk our chance at jumping up to 10th place. Do you honestly think that MLSE is any happier paying millions of dollars for these guys to finish last place?

For all you people that honestly believe that Toronto will ever become a place where players don't want to play than you're either blind or naive. Toronto is the mecca of hockey despite its mediocrity. Much like the Yankees of past, the Leafs could do pretty much anything they wanted and all they'd have to do is start righting the ship for players to trip over themselves to come back.

Mats is not a stupid man. He knows that every single of the next 20 games that he plays and contributes, he is hurting this team, and their chances at rebuilding. After all of his years here he cannot be delusional or stupid enough to believe that retooling around the core we have is going to produce some magical winning combination. All this crap about not walking out on his teammates is rhetoric to make him feel better about the fact that he doesn't want to go. Do you honestly think that any of these players would rather have Mats for the next 6 weeks than have a glimmer of hope for the few years. I hope he has the guts to both congratulate and apologize to Steen for his 2 year extension, because they are going to be two more years of media lambasting and mediocrity under a microscope. Do you think Simon Gagne, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter think of Peter Forsberg as a bad teammate? Do the fans of Philadelphia lament him 'jumping ship'? No, not for a god damn second. And not a single person in that city would have objected to bringing Peter back this year had he been healthy enough to play because he made a sacrifice for that franchise. He spent two months of his life playing the game he loves in a different colored shirt and vastly improved the hopes and futures of an entire franchise.

As I said before, Mats had every right to invoke that contract that he negotiated for HIS OWN BENEFIT. The man has had a wonderful career in Toronto, has played his heart out, and has been both beloved as a captain, and paid handsomely. Nonetheless, if he is not willing to make this sacrifice, then I pray that when our season ends in Montreal in a few weeks it is the last time I see Sundin in the NHL. It would do the Leafs no good to resign him next year to another 5million NTC contract (don't kid yourself into thinking he'll accept anything less).

Mats made a decision for himself knowing full well the potential consequences of that decision, including the potential for ostracization and forfeting future contracts from MLSE. He had every right to make that decision just as every Toronto fan that chooses to be upset at him today has every right.

At 2:57 a.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger Kel said...

I guess the "Centre of the Universe" mentality never ceases to exist. It's already evident that the Leafs has become less and less of a desirable location by looking at the dollar amount the team recently paid to sign UFAs. The Sundin treatment is not going to help. (The management could have been more protective of Sundin.) If the Leafs management take some of the readers' advice and actually humiliate Sundin, I'd be first of all very surprised at the move and also be very confident in my prediction that the Leafs will never be able to sign a UFA without overpaying. Right now, it's not too bad because they've been respecting the players' decision to exercise their rights to veto trades. By the way, if the Leafs do anything blatant to tank the season, the NHL may have a problem with that.

At 2:59 a.m., February 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great decision by Mats. At least there's some loyalty found in this time of greed.

And why don't you write a book, shnork.

At 3:03 a.m., February 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

kel, if there were any logic to your beliefs than all of those UFA's that the Leafs supposedly overspent on would happily accept trades out of the city with their contracts already signed.

At 3:08 a.m., February 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, if the Leafs do anything blatant to tank the season, the NHL may have a problem with that.

As long as they field a full line up for all 60 minutes of their remaining games the NHL can't do shit all.

Toskala's got a weak groin: rest him. Tucker's apparently played hurt all year: shut him down. We supposedly have some youth to look forward do?: bring them up and give them some of the veteran minutes.

If you think that there's some logic or pride in trying to win for the next 4 weeks than you're no different than Mats and his lack of desire to win a cup.

You play in this league for one reason, and one reason alone, to win the Stanley Cup. The second you've lost the potential to compete for it one year you damn well better start doing whats best to correct that for the next year, even if this one's not over.

At 3:12 a.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger Kel said...

The NTC doesn't transfer. Once you waive it, you won't be protected by it in the new team, as far as I know. That's why players on long term deals generally don't waive NTC unless they think the move may benefit their career. Given that the players with big contracts in Toronto aren't likely to get another big contract, why would they agree to be traded and risk being traded for more times?

At 3:17 a.m., February 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NTC doesn't transfer. Once you waive it, you won't be protected by it in the new team, as far as I know. That's why players on long term deals generally don't waive NTC unless they think the move may benefit their career. Given that the players with big contracts in Toronto aren't likely to get another big contract, why would they agree to be traded and risk being traded for more times?

Because according to you they don't want to play in Toronto, thats why they demanded such a high contract. So by leaving they could have their cake and eat it too.

At 6:42 a.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger Joe said...

You can't win with Toronto fans. If he would have been eager to jump ship he would have been a traitor, now that he wants to stay loyal he "refuses to do what is right for the team".

How can you slam this guy? He is one of the great players of our generation and he is loyal enough to his team that he refuses to take the easy way out and win a "meaningless" cup elsewhere.

I hate to say it Leaf fans but without that no trade clause everyone is complaining about you wouldn't have got Mats to sign for such a low number and he'd either have signed with another team or retired last Summer. With the market this year and with how bad nearly every deadline move last year turned out they weren't going to get a Forsberg-like haul for him anyway.

Also, why does everyone want Kaberle to waive his no-trade? Isn't he exactly the kind of d-man you want around for the next few years? You won't find another like him on the open market at the money he is making.

At 7:22 a.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger Baroque said...

I concur:

It did get ugly quickly.

Good for Mats that he stuck with his principles. I wonder if the last few weeks of the season will be so tough on him that he won't re-sign with the team in the offseason, but either retire or go elsewhere.

At 9:45 a.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger Dennis Prouse said...

I cannot believe what I am reading. Do Leaf fans have absolutely no loyalty whatsoever? Mats Sundin is like Darryl Sittler, Wendel Clark, Dave Keon and other Leaf icons of the past. He is a heart and soul guy who has given his all to the fans and his teammates every night. Now you are ripping the guy because he doesn't want to leave? I don't get it. Far from trashing him, you should be looking for more guys who love playing in Toronto, and want to build their careers there.

Packing up and moving cities seriously sucks -- take it from someone who has had to do it twice. I do not blame a guy whatsoever for refusing it if in fact he has negotiated that right for himself in his contract.

Finally, I agree with Sundin in that the whole concept of rental players is a little distasteful. You can count me as someone who was greatly unmoved by Ray Bourque's Stanley Cup "triumph" in Colorado. To me, Ray Bourque was, and always will be, a Boston Bruin, and I put very little stock in the Cup he managed to win at the end of his career with an already loaded Avalanche team.

Even though I am not a Leaf guy, I always had a lot of respect for Mats Sundin. After this, I respect him even more.

At 11:05 a.m., February 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one, am a Leaf guy and Dennis your comments are bang on...

At 11:13 a.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger Nick said...

I can't believe there's leafs fans bashing mats.

I wonder if Detroit or Pittsburgh fans would have acted similarly if Yzerman or Lemieux had gone through the same thing. I'd like to hope not. It's not Sundin's fault the team sucks and him pimping him out for the rest of the season isn't going to fix the leafs woes.

At 11:30 a.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

Leaf fans have never appreciated Sundin. Not that long ago, they wanted Tucker to be captain, and I guess that sentiment hasn't changed for many...

Guys, when Mats talks about loving the 'team', he's not talking about the 2011 Leafs. He's not going to be on the 2011 Leafs, why should he care? He cares about the team he plays for now, and for whatever crazy reason he loves it. He doesn't think he could get up for competing at his hardest for a completely new group of guys at the end of their season. I think he's wrong but he knows himself best.

The other guys I don't understand as well. Tucker, I'm sure, knows that he'll never be this undeservedly popular anywhere else. But hasn't McCabe been booed enough yet? There's more booing on the way. I guess if Kel's right and he waives his clause, he'll be subject to more trades - and possibly to being waived, which currently cannot be done to him. In that case hanging on to the clause makes sense.

Tanking the rest of the season is ridiculous. The object of every team should be to compete as best they can, not to throw up their hands and sulk in the corner until next year. Still, that doesn't mean Toskala needs to start every single night - and for the good of the team, they should follow Damian Cox's suggestion and send Tucker to the minors and McCabe home. Unlike Sundin, having these guys around isn't helping anyone.

At 12:50 p.m., February 25, 2008, Anonymous Bryon said...

I have a hard time believing that "fans" are bashing Sundin for staying loyal to the team that he's been with for 13 years.

Leafs management put themselves into this bind, and they should be the ones responsible for getting them out of it. Saying that the players should help them out by waiving their NTCs is ridiculous.

At 12:51 p.m., February 25, 2008, Blogger BDH said...

The backlash on this seems overblown in part because I don't think the Leafs were going to get much more than a 2nd/3rd line guy (with maybe 1 year of term) and a later 1st rounder. Granted, that's better than nothing, but I think more than a few GMs were weary of Mats because of this whole "my hearts in Toronto" bit.

This is one of the most competitive guys in hockey stating publicly that he doesn't think he could give his all on a different team - - what do you want your favorite team's GM to give up for a few months of his services? Not much.

James and others have made the point that it's not like the Leafs we're going to be can't miss contenders any time soon as a result of a Sundin deal, so if I was a Toronto fan I'd focus more on appreciating Mats rather than bash him for wanting to stay put.

At 1:11 p.m., February 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone tells me to write a book??
Anyhow, my post was not a bash Sundin post. I was really ultimately pointing out that the Leafs may end up with a Stamkos and or Tavares type player in the aftermath. I really don't care what players choose to do within their rights as did Mats, but management has to do what is right for the good of the team. That's presumably why they fired Ferguson and brought in Fletcher.
BTW, I moved from Canada to the US at's good and I don't make 5.5 million dollars...not even close.

At 4:30 p.m., February 25, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can hope for is that the insanity of Toronto doesn't finally run Mats out of town. Why are so many people suggesting that he owed the Leafs this? I just don't understand why everyone's so mad at Sundin. I don't get it. Please explain it to me. Do they know that Tucker, McCabe, Kubina and Kaberle also refused to waive their NTCs? Do they know that Mats isnt' responsible for putting Toronto in this no-win situation of high salaries with very little movement available? Of everyone, including Mats, Kaberle probably would've brought back the biggest return simply because he's excellent AND he's not too old but not too young. Mats would've been just a quick fix for some team, and whoever was willing to "rent" him had to have known that, so I highly doubt that the return would've been as large as we'd like it to have been. So why is Sundin the only one being ripped in the media? (btw, I don't WANT the media to rip Kaberle to shreds either, I'm just curious about the hypocrisy.)

Why are people like Adam Proteau tearing into him for wanting to play out his contract as it was written? He's been nothing but good to Toronto, why are we treating him so badly.

On the other hand, JFJ did very little good for Toronto but when management treated him badly, everyone was all "no one deserves to be treated like like that" and such. Why did JFJ who was pretty horrible during his stay in Toronto deserve more respect than Mats Sundin who has been nothing but good..


- desdemona


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