Former Vancouver Canuck and Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin is in Toronto this weekend for his induction in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Speaking with the media, Sundin revealed he wished he retired as a Maple Leaf.
“It was a good experience [playing with the Canucks] but I wish I would have finished my career as a Maple Leaf,” Sundin said. “Toronto for me is my home as much as Sweden. I’m very glad to be back here today.”
“In my last season I wasn’t sure I wasn’t going to play anymore,” Sundin later added to the Toronto Star. “I think it took six months or so before I decided to play again. Sometime it’s out of your control; you can’t decide how your career ends.”
During the summer of 2008, Sundin was contemplating retirement after 17 seasons in the National Hockey League. Seeking to make a splash, recently inaugurated Canucks general manager Mike Gillis offered Sundin a two-year deal valued at $10 million per season—an offer that would have made him the highest paid player in the NHL.
Sundin ultimately decided against retirement in December and chose to sign with the Canucks on a one-year deal worth $8.6 million annually in hopes of capturing a Stanley Cup championship. The signing was a tremendous coup by the Canucks, an organization that has rarely attracted top-tier free agents.
He missed the first three months of the season due to his indecision and that caused Sundin to look a step behind throughout the regular season. In the playoffs, Sundin returned to form and managed to put up eight points in eight games.
Sundin has been credited with the development of Ryan Kesler into the premier two-way centre we know of him as today. He encouraged Kesler to shoot the puck more and Kesler has credited Sundin for bringing his game to the next level.