What's Buzzing:

Puck Daddy

Mats Sundin honored by Hall of Fame, bleeds Toronto Maple Leafs blue

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

View photo


Getty Images

If you're going to find out you're a Hockey Hall of Famer, it might as well be during dinner at a restaurant. That's where Mats Sundin was with his wife when he got the call, telling him he was in the Class of 2012.

They ordered champagne.

Sundin called his selection part of his "childhood dream" of making hockey his profession. He becomes the 54th player in the Hall of Fame with ties to the Toronto Maple Leafs, following a year in which three of the four players inducted played with Toronto.

He played four years in Quebec and one forgettable half-year in Vancouver before retirement, but his 13 years in Toronto are what defined him as player.

The Hockey Hall of Fame isn't like Cooperstown: You aren't enshrined wearing the uniform of your team on a plaque. But there's no question what ball cap Mats Sundin would be wearing on his head.

"It something I'm very proud of, representing the Toronto Maple Leafs," he said.

Sundin's tenure with the Leafs was a vital aspect in the debate over his Hall of Fame credentials. There were those who felt his stature as a player was inflated because he played in Toronto. There were those who felt his stature could have been greater had he played for a more successful organization.

What's undeniable is that Sundin played the majority of his career in the NHL's most intense pressure-cooker, beginning with the 1994 trade that saw him arrive from Quebec in a package for franchise favorite Wendel Clark.

"He became a tremendous hockey player," said fellow inductee Joe Sakic, who played with Sundin in Quebec. "Every time you played Toronto, you circled one guy. Mats was just a force."

He posted Hall of Fame numbers, and lasted over a decade, under intense scrutiny from fans and media.

"You have to be part of the Toronto Maple Leafs to understand the importance of the team to the city of Toronto. It took a little while to learn that, and to understand the pressure as a Toronto Maple Leafs player and coach to live with that," said Sundin.

"The whole city breathes and lives Toronto Maple Leafs. The longer you're there, you appreciate it more. You understand you're part of something bigger than trying to [just] be a player."

After retirement, Sundin earned a different appreciation of his Toronto experience — that of a fan. He actively cheers for the Leafs, and hopes one day they'll achieve what they never did during his tenure.

"There are no fans in the League, or in the sports world, who deserve a championship as the Toronto Maple Leafs fans do for their support over the years," he said.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
View Comments (16)
  • Bale and Ronaldo on target as Real beat Eibar

    Bale and Ronaldo on target as Real beat Eibar

    By Tim Hanlon BARCELONA (Reuters) - A Gareth Bale header and a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty gave Real Madrid a much-needed 2-0 victory over Eibar in La Liga on Sunday, following their hammering by leaders Barcelona last weekend, and put them six … More »

    Reuters - 10 minutes ago
  • NFL Today, Week 12

    Monday, Nov. 30 … More »

    AP - Sports - 10 minutes ago
  • Barca trio on fire, Leicester's Vardy breaks record

    Barca trio on fire, Leicester's Vardy breaks record

    REUTERS - Barcelona's rampant trio of Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi all found the net at the weekend and unsung Leicester City found themselves in the record books when their England striker Jamie Vardy scored for the 11th straight game. … More »

    Reuters - 13 minutes ago
  • Alabama beats No. 17 Notre Dame 74-73

    Alabama beats No. 17 Notre Dame 74-73

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) -- Retin Obasohan scored 19 points, including the winning layup with 8 seconds left, in Alabama's 74-73 upset win over No. 17 Notre Dame in the fifth-place game at the AdvoCare Invitational on Sunday night. … More »

    AP - Sports - 17 minutes ago
  • New Zealand await clarification on DRS controversy

    New Zealand await clarification on DRS controversy

    By Ian Ransom ADELAIDE (Reuters) - New Zealand are awaiting clarification from the International Cricket Council regarding Nigel Llong's contentious third umpire decision in the day-night test against Australia after the ruling had an "impact" on … More »

    Reuters - 23 minutes ago