Waiting for Sundin
Tragicomedy's probably a good name for this one.
Fans in Vancouver are either pulling their hair or crying their eyes out. In Toronto, it's a real mixed bag of emotion, while the Habs are rather Zen about the whole thing.
Everywhere else, there are chuckles all around.
I haven't covered the Mats Sundin saga at all this summer because there honestly hasn't been a whole lot to say. On July 1, he was the best free agent available, and any team he signs with is going to benefit considerably, but at this point, we're just reading tea leaves.
And they're getting mouldy.
Three weeks ago, I would have guessed Sundin's most likely course of action would be to return to the Maple Leafs or retire — but neither of those options seem realistic at this point. Toronto's shown very little interest in bringing the captain back, and with only around $6-million available under the cap (and the team having no desire to give him another no-trade clause), the fit simply isn't there.
Retirement? With $20-million on the table and the chance to lead Sweden at the Olympics a year and a half from now?
Besides, does a star athlete ever "weigh his options" for a few months and not return? Have we seen a future Hall of Famer call it quits in August after four months of soul searching?
Sundin showed last season that he has plenty left in the tank, and he's desperately wanted by the undermanned Canucks. While I still believe his preference would be to play in Toronto where he's comfortable, I can also see Sundin choosing Vancouver over Montreal simply because he won't have to face his former team multiple times a year.
After 14 years as a Leaf, the last thing he wants is to be booed by the blue and white faithful a handful of times a year.
All in all, it's a bizarre story — much more so than when Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne took a breather last season and came back. Those two had both racked up a ton of miles over a long Stanley Cup run, playing into June and facing the prospect of training camp starting two months later.
Sundin? It's been 114 days since he stepped foot on an NHL ice surface, and we still don't have a clue what he'll do.
I'm not sure he does either.
UPDATE Sundin speaks to the Swedish press.