Yeah I know, he was treated shabbily by management, he doesn't owe us anything, he gave his heart and soul, he's classy, he deserves to win a cup, and blah blah blah blah blah. I don't care. I don't even care that I've known that he wasn't coming back for a long time. I still don't like it, I still think it sucks, I still think we got jobbed, I still think he's taken a long, hot, steamy piss all over his legacy, I still think he's a hypocrite, I still think this is lame, and I still think Mats Sundin can suck my left nut. Argue with me all you want, you know deep down part of you feels the EXACT same way. This totally blows. Here are five reasons I wash my hands of the big Swede:
1. For all the talk of him never having the wingers he needed to be a top-flight superstar and to take the team to the promised land, he never once used his stature as captain of the team and the person with the most secure future in Blue and White (moreso than any coach or GM he played under) to push for those moves to be made. If Wayne Gretzky or Mark Messier or Steve Yzerman or any of those leaders of winning teams felt they didn't have the proper support, you can bet your ass they'd have used their stature and leverage as leaders and superstars to make that happen.
2. He was never angry enough about losing. Read quotes from him at the end of losing seasons, or after playoff defeats, or even over the last couple of years after shitty games, and he never got MAD, he never said he was EMBARRASSED by the state of his team, he never showed that he felt things were going in the wrong direction, he just stood there with his big stupid Swedish face and blathered a few cliches and then went back to not doing squat. Maybe once in a while he'd say the effort wasn't there, but that would be IT. Yes, he was a good leader in that he led by example on the ice, but again, Mess or Stevie Y would never have stood for that shit as long as Mats did.
3. He lied to us. He said he wouldn't start a season partway through. Then he did just that. He belittled Niedermayer and Selanne for coming back partway through a season, said he couldn't see how a person could consider themselves part of a team if they weren't there from the start, and then he did just that. He's a hypocrite, and that's lame.
4. He left Leafs fans hanging. Say what you will about him deserving more from the organization. The only reason he gets paid millions of dollars to play a game for a living is because of fans, and he was lucky enough to play in a market that would buy jerseys with his name on them and shell out hundreds of dollars more than his team was worth to see him play, and where he could get endorsement deals with Nike and McDonald's and Campbell's Chunky Soup, and all no matter how shitty his team was. I'm not saying he should have allowed himself to be traded last year at the deadline just to please us, but to sit there like a goddamn statue in Sweden and toss out little hints that he could retire or he could go back to Toronto or he could play somewhere else and to keep his fans guessing for so long... well, all I'll say is that there are little kids in Toronto who consider you a hero Mats, a living, breathing super hero, and you let them all down. I hope this was worth it.
5. In the end, he took the money. Vancouver is by no stretch of the imagination a top Stanley Cup contender. They're 14 points back of the top team in their conference, they count Kyle Wellwood among their top scorers, and the one asset that does put them head and shoulders above most teams, Roberto Luongo, has been hurt for weeks and who knows how close to 100% he'll be for the rest of the season. Yes Mats gets to play with the Swedish Stepford twins, but the Rangers, the Flyers and the Habs all look like better bets to go far in the playoffs than the Canucks do, even with a most-likely-out-of-shape centre who hasn't played a minute this season and is pushing 40. You sold out Mats, as if you needed the money, and it hurts.
Obviously I'm feeling very emotional right now about all of this, but fuck (yes, I said FUCK), this is really, really sad for Toronto, for hockey, and most of all for a player who I'd ALWAYS defended whenever people denigrated his skill, his playoff performances, his leadership ability, or his commitment to the city of Toronto. Mats, suck my left nut.