The Sundin Saga Finally Ends- What A Mess Left Behind


It’s over… Really over. Even John Belushi’s Animal House Character John “Bluto” Blutarsky would admit It’s over. Really folks, we haven’t seen anything like this around here for a long time. The trading of Vince, the trading of Gilmour, the trading of Felix Potvin, all come to mind sort of. Never, and perhaps becuase of the digital age has a bigger mess of a situation ever been made. Personally, I think there are a lot of people out there who in retrospect look pretty foolish. This constant need to be first is just not journalism. The quality of reporting goes way down and the fans suffer. I think lots of folks should be embarrassed.

Let me start with the easiest target. Hanky is an easy target. To his credit he built a very solid audience. He is proof of the hunger there is for knowledge in the great game of hockey. Whether it is only in Canada and a select group of US markets and then a handful of die hards in other US markets, we are a dedicated bunch who live online looking for anything, literally anything to fill that hunger. However, (and for the record I am not calling Hanky a journalist) the Sundin Saga has also painted Hanky in the worst of light. I am not sure how many people out there read his column tonight after the signing but mannnnnnnnn. How can he say once “as I told you” with any degree of dignity. I mean come on. Yesterday he gave Sundin to NYC his highest rating E5:

“I was told it is done by three sources. Mats to the Rangers. Stay tuned much more to come including how the Rangers will make it work. Update: I am told that one of the teams involved in these sweeps has been informed of Mats decision…”

As the fine folks at pointed out, Hanky had him going to almost every team in the league at one point. It became an industry (hockey) joke. It takes a big man to admit when he is wrong….That clearly isn’t the case here. (and I don’t buy the my job is to only report what I hear crap…)

I hate to do this, as it is totally unfair, but the next guy who blew this one is McCown. When I say I hate to do this, I mean to jump from Hanky to McCown. There is no comparison between the two and they are so far apart, Hanky at the North Pole, McCown at the South. And too much in between to mention. For that reason alone, McCown has some splaning to do. He is the most listened to sports talk show in the city, hell maybe even in the country. He said on his show today that the syndication of the show on sportsnet may be the largest audience that network gets for non live sporting events. He is huge, he is entertaining and he is the measuring stick. Yes he has had a long head start, but I am sure that the fine folks at 640 have their eyes squarely on his show when the books come out. For McCown to be so bold, so confident and so wrong….. OH MY. The guy is clearly connected. I don’t doubt for one second that someone high up whispered in his ear. No one, and I mean no one opened his lips on the air. That prediction sat out there uncontested for 4 days until fact proved it fiction. The night after his prediction (or maybe 2 nights) Kypreos was on the air and McCown said (after Barry clearly disputed the accuracy of the report) “Oh, it’s happening. It’s like your dinner tonight, you may not know when or where, but it is happening.” Even the director of communication for the nhl twittered about McCown’s bold statement when he went it. In essence the league itself broadcast what McCown said. Does this hurt McCown? probably not. Do his rating go down? no. Do his sponsors care? no. Does he credability take a shot- you betcha. I am not in the media business. I just have to believe that when you are about to go on the microphone you have to pretty sure when are going to be this bold given whom you are..Bobcat blew this one big time.

No one in the Toronto Papers really ran amok with this story. There were no bold predictions per se. They were more followers then leaders. There was a ton of useless fodder on whether he should come back here, whether he would come back here, whether he would be welcome back here….yadda yadda yadda. Larry Brooks was really the first one who publicly brought up the Rangers (Hanky aside, and he brought up the winnipeg jets at one point i think). He never said done deal that is for sure. He did say last night that Sundin would give them until the end of the month. That didn’t happen. Some egg on his face too I guess. Berger doesn’t watch TV so who knows what he was thinking. Not much was said, but man did this story eat up time, energy and kill a lot of trees.

In the end, Mat’s proved he is human. Kyreos said it perfectly tonight about the guy he got to interview over in Sweeden. “Mats was upset about giving the Leafs a discount last season and he wanted to make up for it.” Despite the money, I never really thought he would go to Vancouver. I just didn’t see it. I should have though, because like it or not, this came down to one issue; MONEY. Had the rangers gotten the MONEY up, he probably would be a Ranger. They couldn’t and he isn’t. I don’t begrudge Mats that. The guy is entitled to make what the highest bidder is willing to pay. I think a lot of people painted Mats with rose colored brushes. In the end, he isn’t so unlike the rest of us. He followed the buck. In fairness, he really hasn’t done it before. He never bolted the buds despite the fact he probably could have gotten more elsewhere. At 38, if someone is willing to pony up 10 million why the hell not. Give Gillis credit. He is a former agent and he knew the most important lesson. He set the bar. I don’t care who else was in the game. Their offer was being compared to 10m. Is whatever team offers the next highest amount worth taking less money? That answer is usually no. Gillis did what he as an agent would want a gm to do. Open the market high and wait. Keep the dialogue open and remain patient. Say all the right things, keep them interested and eventually it will come down to $. It almost always does.

I can’t believe how quiet the papers are all at 11:50pm. The story broke around 6pm and with the exception of Damien and the Hat, no one else of major consequence has anything posted. Damien is right in his column. After the obligatory shot at the leafs (at least he admitted he hates Toronto) he says that this should be good news for the buds”

“The signing of Sundin, you see, breaks the logjam. Everyone who didn’t get him can aggressively turn to Plan B, and a team like the Maple Leafs, who will most certainly be sellers between now and the March trade deadline, just saw their assets increase in value.Nik Antropov, for instance, is now worth more than he was yesterday. Unless Atlanta decides to trade Ilya Kovalchuk or Tampa tries to move Marty St. Louis or Minnesota opts to dump Marian Gaborik, Antropov might end up being the best forward available by the deadline. ”

I agree in principal. It takes two (or sometimes three) to tango though. I do find it curious how a guy is a proverbial stiff when he is HERE but has real marketability when it comes to the deadline. It smells a little of the setting of the table for the first Burke attack. Can’t you see it coming? I can’t believe that Burke couldn’t get more for __________? Take the positive spin fro Damien, at least he has an article up.

What is missing? The attack on the point that matters:


“I never believed in rent a player to start with, if you wanna be part of a team thats going to have a chance to win the stanley cup or a team that will go far in the playoffs, uh my opinion has always been that you be there from training camp at the start of the season to be part of the group and uh that’s another reason too”

That is what i am waiting for. It will be interesting to see who takes the time to really call him on it. Simmons did a little bit. The sun has such a brutal website that it isn’t up yet if it is going to be so I can’t tell you. Mat’s is entitled to change his mind. To say that he has never believed in something is as strong a statement as you get. Sundin used that as his main reason not to leave last year. He probably sold all the others on the same thing. He then turned his back and did just that. At the very least, had he signed over the summer you could say he would have been true to his word. Now, the guy who Cox told us has always been an honest guy is, ummmm, a liar?

I am interested in seeing what Cliff has to say. So far I haven’t seen anything from him. Burke’s response was irrelevant. I am more interested in his reaction to the brutal exhibition in Boston then his opinion on Sundin that’s for sure.

Then there is the issue of course of what will this do to his legacy. Will he be Ray Bourque and win a championship? Will he mirror Borje and Cujo and curse the day he left? Only time will tell. You know my opinion, the odds are way against him. The good news is he has lots of dough to hedge those odds with right?

I am really glad this over. It will a nutty day tomorrow with all the press to talk about. I will try to post as best i can. I am taking the family south for 10 days and am going to try and beat out the storm so the trip to the airport begins at 445am. about 4 hours and 35 minutes from now. I don’t know how well I am going to be able to post from the ocean (assuming i make it down there) so LT has graciously accepted my begging to help out.

Let me say this however. I started this blog in May or June I believe. It has been a blast every minute. It hasn’t been a chore in my daily routine like others can be. To those of you who are kind enough to read what i have to say and especially those who feel compelled enough to comment or email I can’t thank you enough. I hope everyone out there and your families have a happy, healthy holiday season (Damien, Steve, Howard, bob, Brady, Wilbur you guys too).

well my bags are packed I’m ready to go………………….

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