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Mats Enters the Hockey Hall of Fame

November 13, 2012

On Monday November 12, 2012, Mats Sundin of Sweden formally entered the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF) as a player. Drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques, he was part of a massive trade that sent former first overall pick and fan favourite, Wendel Clark, to Quebec. A fixture on the Maple Leafs for 13 years, he finished his career in a shortened season with the Vancouver Canucks in 2009.

18 NHL seasons, 1346 games played, 564 goals, 785 assists, 1349 points and 1093 penalty minutes. On stats alone,  a case could be made for Mats Sundin’s entrance to the Hockey Hall of Fame. But, as most hockey fans like to say, there is more to a player than his stats. The Toronto Maple Leafs first European-born player to be named captain, led the team for 11 seasons.

Others may bring up the fact that he has never won the Stanley Cup. But he may arguably be the best player never to have won the Cup. Its not named the NHL Hall of Fame, after all. He is the second Swedish player to be elected to the HHOF, the first also being a long-standing Maple Leaf, Borje Salming.

Mats is known for his outstanding play in both international play and in the NHL. Sundin played for the Swedish National Team in three Olympics, six World Championships, a Canada Cup and two World Cup of Hockey tournaments, capturing 3 World Championships and leading Team Sweden to the Olympic Gold medal in 2006.

For those of you who still say that we of the blue and white goggles are now showing a slight shade of rose – how many others, with limited supporting casts, could have done as well as Mats in the blue and white? In one of the highest pressure markets in the league, Sundin managed to shine. He may not have won over all the fans who wanted a more Wendel or Dougie-like captain, but I argue that the Leafs have yet to dress any player as talented as Mats Sundin in the past 40-odd years, with the possible exception of Alexander Mogilny. And Mogilny, while talented, was not really leadership material.

So raise a glass to Mats Sundin, HHOF class of 2012. Here’s to you, Mats – for giving us Leaf fans something to cheer about   every time you stepped on the ice.

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