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February 26, 2015

High Respect For Mats Sundin

Bobby Holik was a hulking, 6'3" 220lb shutdown center, a fantastic faceoff man and one of the best defensive forwards in the game, shutting down the likes of Mark Messier and Eric Lindros. He was a serious hitter, applying bone jarring checks at times. He was a bull in a china shop with the puck, able to drive to the net and apply a bullet of a shot. He was a consistent two way player, better than his annual statistics ever suggested. He was a key player for the New Jersey Devils' Stanley Cup runs in 1995 and 2000.

Did you know that Bobby Holik had his own website? It seems to have disappeared now, but it was called Holik On Hockey and he was not afraid to share his views on the game, past or present.

It made for some great reading. Unfortunately I did not take as many notes from it as I should have. I do have this note about one his most respected opponents, Mats Sundin:

I wanted to write this piece because it seems more hockey people appreciate what Mats Sundin did for the game of hockey in 1990s and first decade of 2000s. He will, or at least should be, a first ballot hall of famer. He was a dominant player during two decades full of dominant players like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Eric Lindros, Mark Messier and Peter Forsberg to mention a few. I would rank him above Forsberg, Sakic and Lindros. He was that good, but I am very biased. Big, strong, great talent and skill-set, and right-handed? That’s as good as it gets in hockey for me.

That is some pretty high praise. And this isn't just anyone's opinion. This is the opinion of one of the NHL's all time great shutdown centers who had to faceoff with all those superstars night after night. That's what you call respect, though Holik doesn't seem to be showing Sundin much respect in the photo below!

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