The lockout doesnâ€™t matter today. For that matter, neither does a Marlies sweep of Texas, or another weekend full of strong performances by Leafs prospects.
I couldn’t care less about any of it today and thatâ€™s because the Leaf who is statistically the greatest of all time is entering the Hall of Fame today. First ballot, too, I might add.
Despite the confession from the man himself that he was a Habs fan growing up, I canâ€™t be deterred from honouring his greatness. Also, who can blame him for not being a fan of the 80â€™s Leafs? Thatâ€™s almost as bad as being a fan of the present Leafs.
My darkest secret may be that I wasnâ€™t always a Sundin fan. In my teenage years, I rebelled against top six players and had a string of garbage Leafs who I loved including Benoit Hogue, Randy Wood and Mike Johnson, before coming around to the better choice of Steve Thomas.
I was a bit of an ass in the sense that I viewed 80-point seasons as Sundinâ€™s job the way that being a marginal penalty killer was Randy Woodâ€™s job. I didnâ€™t allow myself to truly marvel at some of the numbers Sundin was putting up. In an effort in unfortunate timing, I didn’t come to the realization of how great Sundin was until after the lockout.
The number that most sticks out on Matsâ€™ resume is the 79 game winning goals he scored for the Leafs. A number that is 28 more than Ron Ellisâ€™ total, who is second in game winning goals in franchise history. In fact, Sundinâ€™s 96 career game winning goals are good enough to be seventh in league history. He is only behind Phil Esposito, Jaromir Jagr, Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, Teemu Selanne and Guy Lafleur.
His “clutch” numbers in the playoffs become even more impressive: he scored the game winning goal in 9% of the playoff games he dressed in and 21% of his playoff goals were the deciding marker.
The best summation of his career may come in the form of this weekâ€™s Pierre LeBrun article:
â€œThe longest-serving non-North American captain in NHL history; the first European to be taken No. 1 overall in the NHL draft; an incredible point-a-game career that featured 1,349 points (564 goals, 785 assists) in 1,346 regular-season NHL games; eight appearances in the All-Star Game; a three-time IIHF world champion; and of course, an Olympic gold-medal winner — yes, the Hall’s selection committee had plenty else to look at in making its decision.â€
If you havenâ€™t read the full article yet, Iâ€™d encourage you to do so, as well as revisit the MLHS posts from Sundinâ€™s number retirement last season and of course Michael Langloisâ€™ article on Sundin in this yearâ€™s Lindy Maple Leafs Annual.
In the spirit of a weekend about Remembrance, rather than focusing on the horrid state of the Leafs and the NHL, think about those happier times when Sundin was captaining the ship.
The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is on TSN2 at 730ET.
Monday Morning Links…
Sundin gets his Hall of Fame jacket presented to him
The fact that no one bothered to televise the Legends Game and this ceremony upsets me.
Top 13 Sundin Moments
A great countdown from Pension Plan Puppets
Sundin back at the ACC for the Legends Game
Photos of Mats back in the house that he built
Please Gary Bettman, Stay away from the Hall of Fame Inductions
Considering heâ€™s already cost these players the Hall of Fame Game it would probably be nice if he let them have an enjoyable induction day.
Nazem Kadri, the Maple Leafs and the Bouncing Ball
Keeping with the theme of #13’s, here’s Vintage Leaf Memories with a story on #13 for the Marlies.