Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Mats Sundin owes the Leafs nothing"

This points seems to come up a lot these days.

Howard Berger made the case back in February. Virtually every Sundin article on or Sportsnet will feature several comments from fans that echo the same point. Most recently, eyebleaf made it today over at PPP (edit: and again later on his own site).

He doesn't owe them a trade. He doesn't owe them a hometown discount. He doesn't even owe them a straight answer about what he wants to do next year. He doesn't owe them a thing.

Well, I'm not going to get into a long-winded argument about loyalty in pro sports, because it make me sound like a cranky old man and I'll probably wind up banging my face on my keyboard until I look like Braydon Coburn.

So I'll just say this: for the past few days I've mentioned in a few places that Sundin has made $50 million playing for the Leafs. To be honest, I pulled that number right out of my peddie, but it seemed like a reasonable guess.

Well, tonight I looked it up. And it turns out I was way off.

Since coming to Toronto, Mats Sundin has been paid $73 million by the Maple Leafs.

I know it's pro sports and star players make big money and it's not like he's going to turn it down if they're offering, but.... $73 million in twelve and a half years. No first-team all star selections, no major awards or nominations, no 100-point seasons, and all of four playoff series won with him in the lineup. $73 million.

He doesn't owe the Toronto Maple Leafs or their fans anything at all? Not a thing? Really?


  1. this is pro sports. this is the nature of the beast. sundin is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the only one pulling in that kind of loot. he's one of many, many, many millionaires in the game of hockey, and one of even more in all of pro sports. and he never demanded that money. if he did, then he would owe the leafs and the fans, us, something. but he simply signed the papers presented to him. teams aren't loyal to players, so why should players be loyal to teams?

    there is no loyalty in pro sports. none. that rules out any player or team owing each other.

  2. and if sundin remained in quebec/colorado...he makes probably that same amount of money and is a first or second team all-star, has multiple 100 point seasons, and likely wins a personal award or two.

    come on DGB, think about the calibre of teams that have played in toronto during the sundin era. who was on this team when he put up 94 points, and scored 40 goals? who have been the upper echelon type of players that have been here while he has put up a point-per-game every single season? nobody! just name the guys who have rode the sundin winger carousel...they are, other than #89, mostly atrocious...roberts was great, but by no means was he natural goal scorer or point-producer.

    i don't think it's fair to bring up sundin's situation when it relates to awards and personal accomplishments. does the lack of personal recognition by way of scoring titles, etc. diminish what he's accomplished in toronto? i don't think so. i think you'll be the first to agree with me on the notion that sundin has never, ever, other than alexander mogilny, been surrounded with high-calibre talent, the likes of which would be on par with, at the very least, his own...

  3. There are some people at MLSE that "owe" Leaf fans a little more then something, but most of them wear suits. As for players owing a team or it's fans, Mats was never a no-show in a 4-game sweep and Mats never "held out" for a new contract while he was still under contract. That was Yashin, 2001. He really does owe Ottawa.
    The only Leaf player who really owes anything is Raycroft: He owes us a goalie.

  4. eyebleaf...

    I'll grant that Sundin hasn't had great talent around him. I actually wish he had demanded better linemates, but maybe he tried behind the scenes.


    ...and he never demanded that money. if he did, then he would owe the leafs and the fans, us, something. but he simply signed the papers presented to him.

    ... this is just silly. Of course he demanded the money -- every contract is a negotiation, and he (and his agent) would have made their expectations known.

    I've never been one of those guys who thinks Sundin should give the team a massive discount just for the honor of playing in Toronto, but you can't dispute that he always made top market money with the Leafs, and maybe more given his contributions.

    I'll certainly give him credit for never holding out or otherwise causing a distration over his contract. But the fact is that he was paid a huge sum of money over the years and now apparently doesn't think he owes the team a thing, and I think he's wrong.

  5. i guess that's where we differ. you believe he owes the team something. i don't. i just can't believe that. we'll agree to disagree.

    did the jays owe carlos delgado something when his contract came up with the Jays? carlos made upwards of $70 million with toronto, and the jays didn't even offer him a contract when he became a free agent. did the jays owe him a contract? no. i don't think so. he was a free agent, they were moving in another direction, and delgado went to new york. the situation with sundin reminds me of that.

    i just think now we need to focus on what we'll offer big mats.

    general borschevsky:

    your comment had me on the floor. raycroft is the only pro athlete who owes us something. he def owes us a goalie, lol. what a douche.

  6. Correction: the year I'm referring to regarding Yashin was 1999. The four game sweep was against Buffalo in the first round, he had no points, minus 4, but then wanted a new contract because he'd been nominated for the Hart. Sens let him sit out the entire year, only to have him back in 2001 for another 4-game sweep (vs. Leafs) in which he had 1 assist. Then they traded his restricted rights to NYI.

  7. Um, what? You've got some great articles here, but this isn't one of them.

    The Leafs paid Mats $73 million to be an elite hockey player for the duration of the contracts that they signed him to. He's performed very well, to the tune of at least 27 goals and 72 points a season and almost a point per game in the post season. On his way to becoming the highest scoring player in the history of one of the oldest franchises to exist in the league. What does he now owe, exactly?

    Is it somehow his fault that other players on the team failed to live up to their contracts? Does he now owe us for the franchises inability to create a team with sufficient youth and depth to make a cup run a possibility? I fail to see the debt that Sundin has managed to accrue in these circumstances. He gave the Leafs the best years of his career, almost all of them in fact, he was consistently one of the best players in the league (despite his lack of all-star appearances), and for all this we paid him.

    There are lots of reasons why you might feel that Sundin has an obligation to stay with the team, the fact that monetarily he gained a lot while he was here is not one of them. You pay a player $73 million over 14 years because he proved he earned that kind of compensation and proved that he will continue to perform, and Sundin did both of those things.

    If you want to stress that there's something beyond a simple transaction of $73 million for 1000+ points as a Maple Leaf, then how about this: A star player chooses to stay with a team for 14 years, they don't make him. He chooses to do that with the knowledge that if he plays consistently at the top of his game the team can count on him and build around his abilities in order to achieve what they both want, a championship. On a winning team the player owes the team his best, and the team owes the player a chance to win it all. Mats Sundin never had a bad season, never threatened or complained over his contracts, and proved that he was the kind of captain a team could build around, the Leafs had 14 years to do it. Who then, is really owed here? Between Mats Sundin and the Maple Leafs, who did not fulfill their end of that unspoken bargain?