Leafs’ longest serving captain (16th seasons) Mats Sundin returns to Toronto for his first game after signing with the Canucks this season. It was predicted to be an emotional game for Mats, and it turned out exactly what everyone expected, and more.
A few minutes into the game, a Sundin tribute video was shown on the screen at the Air Canada Center. The crowd turned their boos into cheers for their once beloved captain. Then was a three minute standing ovation from the fans, and we saw tears in Sundin’s eyes when he took the ice.
This is the part of hockey that most fans rarely get to see, and when you see them, you understand why this is not just a sport for Canadian fans.
To be honest, what Mats did to the Leafs last season, refusing to be traded prior to the deadline, and then claiming retirement until he chooses to sign with the Canucks, can surely be seen as a betrayal of some sort. Yes, because he’s such a respected star in the league, a lot of people, especially sport commentators have said that he only did what he thought was best for the team. He thought that the Leafs had a decent chance to make the playoffs last year with him in the lineup. However, by refusing to be traded, his relationship with the Leaf’s management turned sour, and he didn’t want to sign back with Toronto in the off season. Some say that the hiring of Burke, and his comments about not needing Sundin, removed any slim chance of the Captain signing back with Toronto…
Whatever happened, the fact remains. The Leafs lost their best player to free agency for nothing. The team will still miss the playoffs this season (most likely, unless some miracle happens). Everyone knows he’s perhaps the best player to ever wear the blue and white, but what he did during his last days in Toronto are surely not his best moments. I mean, if Sundin agreed to be traded, I’m sure the Canadiens are willing to give up some good draft picks for him, even though Sundin was an impending UFA. Perhaps a first rounder and a good prospect player??!!! Maybe even more if other teams are in the bidding. So, yes, the Leafs were victimized by Sundin’s somewhat selfish decision!
Yet, during his first return, and in such a short period of time since he left, the fans still greeted Sundin with cheers, claps and a standing ovation. The best part is, right after the ovation, whenever Sundin touches the puck, the fans still booed him. This shows that Leaf fans appreciates what Sundin did for them in the past, but now that he’s the enemy, he deserves every boo thrown his way. Not many games before, when rookie-goaltender Pogge was being shellshocked during a game, the same fans mocked him for stopping a simple shot. So now whenever people claims that Toronto’s fans are harsh and mean to their team, I will have a different level of appreciation. Perhaps some players do deserved to be booed, after all, fans pay good money to watch these games, and players making millions of dollars should be held accountable and responsible.
Canucks 3 @ Maple Leafs 2 (OT – SO)
Deja vu, anyone?? Didn’t we watched this game a few days ago in Calgary??
Well maybe not, the Canucks were much better during the rest of the game against the Flames. Really, it’s strange with Hockey, when the team is on a roll, they win games they don’t deserve, but when they are in a slump, they just can’t buy a win no matter how hard they played!!! Eighth win in the last nine games, can you imagine?? Better not jinx it.
So basically, the team trailed throughout the entire game, only to be tied by a late 3rd period goal. Again, no one other than Alex Burrows scored a goal when the team most needed one. What a beauty!! His hand-eye-coordination is just sensational, re-directing Sedin’s mid-air wide shot into the net.
For those of you who thinks Burrows doesn’t deserve a 2-million dollar contract, please have your head re-examined!!! What a clutch player!! He deserves to be making more than Kesler, at least for now. So come on Gillis, sign this guy. Again, I must repeat this, can you imagine he wasn’t even drafted???!!!
The team tied things up for OT, which solved nothing, and then the storybook ending begins.
Blake shoots first for the Leafs, and Luongo stopped it. Demitra shoots first for the Canucks and he scored, just like he did in Calgary. Hagman shoots second for Toronto, again Luongo stopped it. Then comes Wellwood, who made the worst attempt at even hitting the net with the shot.
Grabovski was the next to shoot for the Leafs, and he beats Luongo. So it all came down to Sundin, if he scores he wins it for his new club. Everyone was stading in the ACC, one can only imagine the pressure on Sundin, if it was me, I don’t think I can even skate right under such atmosphere. But once again, Sundin showed why he’s the first-ever European first-overall pick, with a simple deke to the backhand and scored. What a finish.
But then something funny happened, the camera panned to the fans getting up to leave, and most of the Leaf fans are actually smiling, and some actually clapped while shaking their heads, just like those Oscar nominees who didn’t win, knowing the camera is on them. So I guess the fans are thinking this is well-deserving, and if we have to lose this one, if some player has to score the SO winner, it might-as-well be Sundin.