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January 10, 2011

Should He Stay Or Should He Go? Tough Decisions For The Toronto Maple Leafs And Their Beloved Captain Mats Sundin

As the trade deadline comes down to the last minute, one of the biggest questions is will Mats Sundin remain a Maple Leaf. The captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs is a fan favorite, leader of the team and he holds both the all time point record and goal record for the Leafs. His calm, poised demeanor holds up under the onslaught of questions about why the Leafs are not winning games and if he will waive a no trade clause and be traded. Time after time Mats Sundin has told us that he wants to stay in Toronto. That he loves playing in Toronto and he does not want to go to another team.

Forget about the Leafs’ record and the fact that they may miss the playoffs for the second year in a row. Forget the fact that other teams that had a lot further to come in the building sense (Phoenix, Washington and a few others) than the Leafs have, are battling for playoff spots. I think that what we need to look at is the fact that Mats Sundin is a world class player and captain and he is ready to stand by his team even if the ship is sinking. I want the Leafs to end the 40 year Stanley Cup drought. Heck, I would be elated to just see them make it to the playoffs this year but will trading Sundin really help that? Probably not.

Don Cherry, who, rather you like him or not, knows his hockey made a great point on a recent Coaches Corner. The Leafs are situated in the breeding ground for future great NHL players yet they just don’t pick those players. Not to say that great hockey players don’t come out of countries outside of Canada, because they do. But the Leafs seem to have neglected a lot of players that they should have been exposed to on the home front.

With that said, Mats Sundin is a top notch player and he has earned his spot on the team and as team captain. He also was an acquisition that came long before the current problems arrived in Toronto. If he wants to stay, the Leafs should feel lucky and try to either rally the guys they have around Sundin, or bring in some young blood that can feed off of his leadership and develop while the team is still graced with his presence.

There are plenty of good players on the Leafs that could play much better. It seems that the major problem the team has is chemistry. At times the team looks scattered and disjointed. It may seem like making a trade might give the Leafs a boost but I am not convinced. The team that is currently assembled just seems to have not been able to find their way this season. However, when I see them beat the Red Wings and the Senators (although they were impacted by injuries), and step up to the plate on random nights to come from behind and win games, I have hope. Hope that the team that has been lost all season is finally finding their way and that the group of guys that call themselves Toronto Maple Leafs at this moment, before any moves are made, can turn things around.

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