The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to honour Mats Sundin on Saturday. Bringing #13 back into the headlines of course begs the question: Does Mats Sundin deserve inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame?
Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail is already on record stating, emphatically, that he should be included:
He scored more career goals than Guy Lafleur, Johnny Bucyk and Frank Mahovlich, all of whom also won a Stanley Cup. Sundin never won a Cup then again neither did Dale Hawerchuk, who was voted into the Hall in 2001.He also goes on to mention that Sundin was a 2006 Olympic gold medallist, was the first European drafted first overall, and was the first Swede to score 1000 points. He was "a remarkably durable, highly skilled player" who played in 1346 games, scoring 564 goals and 1349 points.
Stu Hackel over at the NY Times blog Slap Shot not only champions Sundin's Hall of Fame credential, but suggests maybe we should be considering Sundin as the greatest Toronto Maple Leaf ever.
That is a pretty lofty title in itself. I don't know if I would rank Sundin over Syl Apps, Teeder Kennedy, Frank Mahovlich or Dave Keon. But I have no reservations ranking him ahead of Darryl Sittler, who I consider to be a perfect comparable for Sundin.
Sittler and Sundin both bled Maple Leafs blue, captaining the team for long tenures and without much help. They were maligned to some degree, mostly unfairly, because of the lack of team success. Neither player won a Stanley Cup, or even a major individual trophy. Those outside of Toronto suggested that both were very good and very popular players, elevated to great players only because they were the face of the franchise in the most intense market in hockey.
I tend to agree that Sundin was a very good player for a very long time, but not necessarily a great player for any extended length of time. But there are several similar players like that already in the Hockey Hall of Fame - Mike Gartner, Dale Hawerchuk, Bernie Federko, Pat Lafontaine and, drum roll please, Darryl Sittler.
Soon Mats Sundin will take his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame on 30 Yonge Street, forever residing in the great city of Toronto, a Maple Leaf forever.
Sundin Remembered As Consummate Pro - Toronto Star
An Extraordinary Career - TorontoMapleLeafs.com
No Regrets For Mats Sundin - Globe and Mail
13 Unforgettable Moments - Toronto Sun
Holik on Mats Sundin - Bobby Holik