July 25, 2008
I did a spot on Toronto's FAN 590 last weekend, and they asked me if I had any inside information about where Mats Sundin will be playing next season. (Blissfully unaware that my primary contributions to hockey journalism are this and this.) As I correctly explained to the host, the only inside information is the information inside that big bald Swedish skull of Sundin's. And that information seems to change every hour.
For example, in the last week we've heard Sundin's agent J.P. Barry explain that "Mats has decided he will make a decision by Aug. 1." Yet Waiting for Stanley found an interview between Sundin and a Swedish newspaper that has him denying the Aug. 1 deadline and saying that his decision will come "in August."
All of this makes me feel rather sad for Vancouver Canucks fans, who have watched their team ante up $20 million (!) for the services of a past-his-prime player in a move equal parts publicity stunt and offensive desperation. GM Mike Gillis believes Vancouver and the Toronto Maple Leafs are the last two teams standing for Sundin's services; he also believes that the team's off-season moves have increased its chances for landing Sundin. ("Pavol Demitra and Darcy Hordichuk? I'm on the first plane out of Stockholm, Mr. Gillis.")
So as some Canucks fans offer Sundin "free dentistry for the rest of his life" and the location of "all of Brendan Morrison's fishing holes on the Vedder River" as enticement for Sundin to arrive, hockey fans are left with creating a complicated mathematic matrix to determine Sundin's fate. (Although one that uses "Stupid things that Mike Gillis says on the radio" as a factor.)
This really can't be over fast enough for me. "To play, or not to play..."