July 24, 2008

Lines We Can Finally Read Between

Surprisingly, not much has been made out of Sundin's latest comments to a Swedish newspaper in the wake of a bogus rumor suggesting that a deal was signed, sealed and delivered to Vancouver.

In Sundin's own words (paraphrased for my own personal convenience), he was flattered by both the Canadiens and Canucks offers, but has not counted out the chance of rejoining the Leafs for a 14th season. A day later, we were told that his final answer would be made on August 1st.

Having gotten to know the large Swede over the course of a decade, there are few NHLers that are as calculated when they get behind a microphone. Sundin has always been very good at keeping with his enigmatic persona, giving a bloodthirsty media little room to find anything noteworthy between the lines in which he is quoted. But having obviously felt a little obligated to address the ongoing rumors that must have Canuck fans in knots right now, we may have finally found a chink in Sundin's armor. And ironically enough, all the big shots here in Toronto seem to have missed it completely.

I personally found two things that were rather telling about Sundin's statements to Aftonbladet. One was the singling out of him not counting out the Leafs, while merely saying that the other two offers were "flattering". Secondly, was revealing that he felt the Toronto offer was "very good".

As much as Leaf fans may feel that they know their Captain, Mats knows the Toronto fans even more. The good people of Toronto do not hold their opinions close to their vests, as he prefers to. So then why go that extra distance to not count out the Leafs? Is he so evil that he would give Toronto false hope just weeks before his decision is final? It would have taken him no effort on his part to simply say that he has not yet decided if he wants to continue his career at all and leave it at that. But to openly acknowledge that the Leafs are still very much in the hunt of all of this? These are the words of a Captain that is at extreme odds with the idea of abandoning his ship.

Secondly, the one thing Mats Sundin has repeated many times before his widely documented fishing trip, was that he was looking for a sign that the new Leafs management had him in their future plans to begin with. I believe he referred to it as "showing interest in him". So when he goes on record saying something to the effect of, "I got a very good offer from (the Leafs), too, and also from Montreal," is he not disclosing that they have done what he asked and showed interest in him? Having matched the offer of the team they traded his negotiating rights to prior to July 1st, pretty much rules out the conspiracy theories that have been floating around that suggest Cliff Fletcher is merely in the bidding for PR reasons.

True enough, nothing can actually be guaranteed until the pen hits the paper. However, since this article made the rounds, the odds of Sundin returning to the Leafs and not retiring or signing with anyone else, appear to be much greater than they were a week ago.


general borschevsky said...

Hi Leafer. Great post. Really well written.
Is he so evil that he would give Toronto false hope just weeks before his decision is final?
You just nailed it.
We'll be comin' around here often.

LeaferSutherland said...

Thanks, GB!