Lucky Number 13 – Mats Sundin
This Saturday, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be raising a banner to the rafters of the Air Canada Centre to honour the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, Mats Sundin.
While the team no longer retires numbers in the traditional sense, they do honour the numbers worn by its greatest players.
The first overall selection in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, Sundin made his NHL debut during the 1990-91 season with the Quebec Nordiques. He began to emerge as a scoring star during his sophomore campaign and put up a career-best 114 points during in 1992-93.
He was traded to the Maple Leafs in a blockbuster deal that saw Wendel Clark go to the Nordiques on June 28, 1994 and he was an instant hit in Toronto. He appeared in his first NHL All-Star Game in 1996 and would play in seven more of them over the course of his career. In 1996-97, he finished among the top 10 scorers in the league and was named captain of the Blue & white following the departure of teammate Doug Gilmour.
Under Sundin’s leadership, the Maple Leafs returned to playoff contention in 1998-99 and made it to the Eastern Conference Final. Perhaps his greatest season in Toronto came in 2001-02 as he was named to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team and finished fourth among all scorers with 80 points before taking the club deep into the playoffs once again. In 2003-04, he led all players with an impressive 10 game-winning goals.
The 2007-08 season marked his last appearance as a member of the Maple Leafs and he became the club’s all-time leader in goals (420) and points (987) that year. His final NHL campaign came the next year with the Vancouver Canucks.
His legacy is certainly impressive as he finished his career with 564 goals and 785 assists for 1,349 points over 1,346 career games. One day, it is quite possible that he will be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame and his scoring standards set in Toronto will be very difficult to surpass.
I am pleased to announce that Mats has re-joined the In The Game family. His first cards will be found in Captain-C. Both autograph cards and authentic Game-Used Memorabilia cards will be inserted.
Congratulations Mats and welcome back to the In The Game family.