... but I consider Sundin a better player than Koivu. However, I'd consider Koivu a slightly better leader than Sundin.
Here's my thing about Sundin. I see him as being in the same situation as Messier was late in his career with the Rangers. I said this about Messier in his last couple of years... yes he's still playing great hockey, yes he's accomplished a lot in his career (although, Sundin not even close to as much as Messier), yes the fans love him, yadda yadda yadda. I felt Messier had lost his ability to lead a team to victories because of a few things: 1. He was much older than most of the team; 2. He had accomplished a lot, enough for any mortal to be satisfied with; 3. His presence in the locker room was too great, in that it was "his team", not an actual "team". 4. He was enjoying being the famous player that he was in a city that loved him - as opposed to his ousting in Vancouver.
With Sundin, 1. He's old, old enough that any youth movement will become dependant on his oldness instead of finding their own way to win; 2. He's an accomplished player, with the exception of a championship or MVP win (nomination?), but I sure as hell don't get the sense those things are ultra important to him; 3. His presence in the locker room is too great, in that it is "his team", not an actual "team". 4. He is enjoying being the famous player in a hockey city that loves him - he has nothing to prove to the fans, they can't love him anymore than they already do.
Remove Sundin from the equation, take a year to build a TEAM a la Philadelphia and Leafs fans might have something real to cheer about. Either that, or get Mats and McCabe to take fairly large pay cuts and take the C away from Mats and give it to a younger star player who plays with passion (oh yeah, they don't really have any). I'd say maybe Wellwood but he's never been much of a golden boy with Leafs brass.
Here's why I think Sundin is better than Koivu... he's more talented and skillful. Look at Sundin's performance on team Sweden, when he's not shouldering the leadership of the team. Put him in that environment right now and he'll keep racking up points making a good team much better. Koivu would not improve an already good team as much. I think Calgary is a perfect fit for Sundin for that reason.
I honestly dont think Toronto will ever part with their beloved Mats. He's more marketable to the fans than winning is. The fans and organization are their own worst enemy... delusional fans who see everything Leaf through rose-colored glasses, and an ownership (pension fund) that cares only about steady cash flows for retirees. There's nothing you can do about the latter, but the former needs to wisen up and make it in ownerships best interests to win on the ice. Another way to do this would be if the NHL allowed another team in the Golden Horseshoe to eat up some Leafs market. Again, don't hold your breath.
PS: I think that'a s pretty good post, for me. It's as honest as I can be. I don't like disliking the Leafs, its the reasons above that contribute the most to it. To be fair, my best friend is what he considers a die-hard Leafs fan... he went to TO for his first Leafs game this season and said he was blown away at what the most loyal fans are like. Loyal in a sick way. I know every team has them, but by other accounts there's a religion in Toronto that makes it far too easy for ownership to win at the bank while losing on the ice.
Posted on Jan 21, 2008, 3:55 PM from IP address 18.104.22.168