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Mats Sundin, the legendary Leaf, or Duck, or Ranger, or Canadien, or whoever. Mats Sundin, the greatest player to ever lace them up for the blue and white. Mats Sundin, practically a Canadian hockey player with his gritty, drive to the net game. Mats Sundin, bleeds blue and white… and lots and lots of green.

Consider the fact that Mats Sundin is the third highest paid player in the last 20 years in the NHL. From 1990 to present, he has made a total of just over $74 Million, and has accumulated 1321 points in that time frame. Only two other players have made more than Sundin – Joe Sakic at just over $87 Million since the 1988-89 season, and Jarmir Jagr (go figure) who made just under $100 Million since the 1990-91 season.

If you break it down, Mats Sundin has been paid $53 thousand dollars a point throughout his career and since joining the Maple Leafs has been paid just over $72 thousand per tally. Not a bad wage considering he’s only once broken the 100 point plateau, and he was wearing a Nordiques jersey at the time. Only one season with the Leafs has he ever topped 90 points and that came over a decade ago. For a guy who’s totaled an average of high 70s in points per season, he’s more than made his fair share.

He’s been proclaimed by many to be the greatest Leaf captain to ever play the game. Considering Sundin has never won a cup, or even brought the Leafs to the Stanley Cup finals, it’s difficult to claim Sundin is the savior of the Maple Leafs franchise, but let’s take a look at a few other “franchise saviors” in the last 20 years.

Joe Sakic. He has made more money than Sundin during the same time frame. Throughout his career, Sakic has reached 1829 points, breaking the 100 point plateau on six separate occasions and just missing it by a few odd points on three other attempts. Throughout his career, on average, Sakic has been paid by the Quebec/Colorado franchise just over $47 thousand dollars per point. Sakic has won 2 Stanley Cups.

Steve Yzerman collected just under $65 Million over the course of his career and broke the 100 point plateau on six consecutive seasons and brought Detroit 3 Stanley Cups to drink from. He hit 1755 points and was paid an average $37 thousand dollars for each tally.

Finally, let’s take a look at a man who has played with both Ed Belfour and Joe Nieuwendyk on occasion. Mike Modano has tallied 1283 points over 18 seasons in the NHL. He’s also made $70 Million dollars in that time, just $4 Million short of Sundin’s career cash figure, and in that time has lead the Dallas Stars to Stanley Cup victory. Per point, Modano was paid just under $55 thousand dollars, and since the 1994-95 season (when Sundin joined the Maple Leafs) Mike Modano has made just over $67 Million and tallied 974 points – equivalent to just under $69 thousand dollars a point ($3 thousand less than Sundin).

It’s easy to say Mats Sundin didn’t have the players the other mentioned names had to play with, but there has always been a top goaltender in Toronto (other than Raycroft) and Sundin has been joined by Gary Roberts, Alex Mogilny, Doug Gilmour, Owen Nolan, Eric Lindros, Jason Allison, and even Wendel Clark at various times. The Leafs have tried to get the right players to join him on the top unit, but no one could ever play with him.

While Mats Sundin claims his career was never about the money, even taking a so-called “pay cut” in the last few seasons he’s played, it certainly doesn’t show by the numbers. In the last 3 seasons as a Maple Leaf, Sundin made on average $6.5 Million dollars and produced no more than 78 points a season. That is equal to just over $83 thousand dollars a point since the lockout.

The fact is, while many critically claim Sundin will not sign in Vancouver regardless of the amount of money they throw at him, there’s two ways you can look at it. The first – Sundin has always played for the top dollar based on his performance. Making over $6 Million as a 70 point 35, 36 and 37 year old is quite the retirement plan, and $20 Million for two more 70 point seasons is a pretty decent check for a 37 year old. The second – Sundin has already drained every possible penny he’s earned out of MLSE and now that he’s got an 8 digit bank account, he is more than capable of playing for a low amount, or rather a fair amount, to try and win a Stanley Cup.

Regardless of the jersey Mats retires with, he’ll always bleed green.

Micheal A. Aldred

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