For the next two days, we're running 13 of our top memories of Mats Sundin as a Maple Leaf. There are more to choose from but Sundin captaining Sweden to Gold in 2006 and his years as a Nordique won't make an appearance on the list. For help, I enlisted Mats Sundin's biggest fan Eyebleaf to help come up with and number the list. It's far from exhaustive and your mileage may vary on our choices but these were the 13 that came immediately into our minds so consider it a small token of our appreciation for one of the greatest Leafs of all-time.
We've managed to make it through this list without really touching upon the controversy of his departure. Well, get ready for it. This was the post I wrote when he signed for Vancouver. I think it's a pretty good summary of the situation. I'll admit that I was really angry with Mats. He had saved the Leafs so often over the years with a timely goal or assist that I wanted him to save them once more by falling on his sword and leaving the town that he loved. Of course, he would leave eventually but without leaving behind the bounty he could have brought in a trade. It would have been a nice moment of closure if the players the Leafs acquired in the Sundin trade were in the lineup tonight to watch Sundin's 13 raised to the rafters.
However, as I wrote in the end, time has passed, hearts have softened and the weight of the good that Sundin did far outweighs the possible loss his refusal to waive his no trade clause theoretically cost the Leafs. We could just as easily be lamenting the trading of an iconic Maple Leaf for Robert Nilsson, Ryan O`Marra, and a first round pick that turned into nothing. So on that note, let's remember the time that Leafs fans covered themselves in glory by welcoming back their captain with a standing ovation:
Speaking of ovations, I've never witnessed a standing-o quite like the one Sundin received on Feb. 21, 2009, when he returned to Toronto - returned home - as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. I paid $280 for a pair of purples that night; I had to be in the building. And it was worth every penny. It was a night of closure, a night to say goodbye, something we hadn't had the chance to do. A few clowns booed Sundin that night, but the majority of us cheered Mats's incredible accomplishments in the blue and white. I'll never forget watching Sundin stand on the Vancouver bench, in tears, and salute the crowd. Sundin gave us one last backhand shelf, in the shootout, to win the game, that night, except he did it for Vancouver. But there were no hard feelings. Sundin might have been wearing a Canucks jersey, but we all knew he was a Maple Leaf.