Saturday, December 20, 2008

More on Mats

(What? No, the headline isn't a pun. Stop being so paranoid.)

Anyways, here's a few quick thoughts and links on the Sundin fallout.

  • I'm going to resist the urge to get upset over the Star's Sundin interview in which he describes leaving Toronto with a "bitter taste". Sundin comes across as a thin-skinned prick in this article, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt because I suspect Rosie DiManno had already decided to write this kind of article before the interview even started. I'll wait to hear from Mats via somebody without an axe to grind, thanks.

  • In a similar vein, there are reports going around that Mats chased the money this time because he never got over taking a "discount" to sign with Toronto in his final year. Al Strachan has also reported on HNIC that Sundin was deeply upset that the Leafs even considered trading him despite his NTC.

    Again, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, considering the sources here. But if this sort of stuff turns out to be true... well, go screw yourself, princess.

  • With a glove tap to fellow Score Network sellout partner Lions in Winter, here's an interesting chart that shows the NHL players with the highest career earnings of all time.

    I'll just post the link without comment. Remember, though, Mats didn't owe the Leafs anything.

  • Canucks Hockey Blog, another Score Network site (if there anyone left who isn't in this thing?) weighs in with the Vancouver reaction. As you can imagine, they're pretty excited.

  • Here's the flip side: A Canucks blog that didn't want any part of Mats.

  • Finally, the Mats signing has kicked off a predictable round of hand-wringing over how Leaf captains never seen to retire with the team. But how many NHL teams actually do have their captains retire while wearing the "C"? Cox and friends never seem to mention that part.

    Well, Bitter Leaf Fan actually has the answer. Not counting careers cut short by injuries, how often do you think it happens? To find out, check the end of this post.


  1. Dear Creator of,

    I am not sure the best way to get in touch with you. I am a big fan of the site, and a massive wendel fan to boot. Being an Ottawa based Leaf fan is always tough, so know that you have many brothers-in-arms in this region (anyone who goes to a Leafs/Sens game at scotiabank place knows that). I had a question about Dan Christopher, the guy who did "All Heart". I wanted to get in touch with him to ask his permission to use the symbol shown throughout the video on a tee shirt for my hockey apparel company, Gearwear Hockey Apparel. Is there an email address you could provide me so that I can get in touch with him. Or perhaps u could pass the message along. I don't wanna put it on a tee unless I have his blessing. Thanks. Please let me know via email at or

    Mark Blaney
    Gearwear Hockey Apparel

  2. Dude, you need to stop obsessing about Mats’ money. This just in: pro athletes get paid a lot.

    First of all, no employee ‘owes’ their employer anything for being paid to do a job, especially when the employee does their job better than their employer does. And how much money did Mats make for his employers over his career? Don't they owe him anything?

    If you looked at that link in any detail, you would have seen that Mats was in the top 5 in the league for salaries only twice out of the 18 seasons listed. His massive career earnings are due to a) playing the bulk of his career in the free-spending 90s/00s and b) having a longer career than many NHLers.

    But more importantly, looking at straight “total earnings” numbers to do a comparison or make a point is pretty bush league (reminds me of a certain Toronto Star columnist almost). Here are two better evaluations of NHL salaries (using only the 20 players listed on the wikipedia chart):

    Salary per season played (Rank, Name, # seasons, Salary per season)

    1 Jaromir Jagr 17 $5,874,993.71
    2 Peter Forsberg 12 $5,867,101.17
    3 Paul Kariya 13 $5,437,392.31
    4 Chris Pronger 14 $4,728,607.14
    5 Pavel Bure 12 $4,697,482.83
    6 Keith Tkachuk 16 $4,615,542.13
    7 Joe Sakic 19 $4,588,107.74
    8 Nicklas Lidstrom 16 $4,566,562.50
    9 Mats Sundin 17 $4,355,448.94
    10 Rob Blake 18 $4,059,332.33

    Salary per game played (Rank, Name, # games, Salary per game)

    1 Peter Forsberg 706 $99,724.10
    2 Pavel Bure 702 $80,298.85
    3 Jaromir Jagr 1273 $78,456.32
    4 Paul Kariya 903 $78,279.18
    5 Dominik Hasek 735 $73,676.60
    6 Chris Pronger 940 $70,426.06
    7 Keith Tkachuk 1055 $69,998.74
    8 Rob Blake 1127 $64,834.06
    9 Joe Sakic 1363 $63,957.48
    10 Nicklas Lidstrom 1252 $58,358.63
    11 Mats Sundin 1305 $56,737.65

    So yeah, mats made a tonne of dough in his career, but he wasn't paid any more than his 'superstar' peers, or any more than his status as a top-10 player in the league dictated. To suggest he owed MLSE anything for being paid to do his job is offside.

  3. I agree, he didnt owe the leafs anything....and the Leafs owed him nothing.

    If he thught that taking a discount was beneath him it just means he was seeking to be paid what he was worth and all the words about bleeding blue and white and not wanting to be a rental were just that....words.

    I don't have trouble with him doing what he did, I have toruble with him claiming higher motives that he doesn't really have.

    As for him saying he dint want a discount for his final year....what final year, he apparently couldnt decide what year was his final year. Was that last year?, this Year? Next Year? With Hamlet, uh Mats who the heck knows.

    So he didnt want the Leafs to receive anything last year....somehow believeing that getting into the playoffs was going to make it all ok, don't know for who. And then he wants the Leafs to pay him full price to play his last year in his chosen place, eliminatibg cap space and making another useless run at the playoffs?

    All I can conclude from that is, its all about Mats.

    My advice to Mats...stop talking and play the game. Your a great player, you were a great leaf...but lying gets you in trouble. Stop lying or cming up with excuses or semi rationalizations, non of them are worthy of you. Just help the Canucks win a cup.

  4. Daoust, nice comment. A few points:

    First of all, no employee ‘owes’ their employer anything for being paid to do a job, especially when the employee does their job better than their employer does. And how much money did Mats make for his employers over his career? Don't they owe him anything?

    Yes, both sides owe each other something more than pushing money back and forth. Or at least they should.

    Some people seem to think that the employee's job is to show up and punch the clock when he's told to, and the employer's job is the make sure the checks don't bounce, and that's all there is.

    Call me a sap, but I'm still hoping for a little bit more out of pro athletes. Especially guys like Mats who are supposed to be franchise-defining guys, who we're told are forming a relationship with fans and city.

    Maybe that's unrealistic. I'm cynical enough to know it's not realistic for 95% of pro athletes. Maybe I should just give up and move that to 100%. Maybe I should just assume that "I don't want to play anywhere else" will always just be cookie-cutter marketing-speak, a nice soundbite that nobody should really take seriosly. Maybe I should just accept that even a guy wearing the "C" for a franchise with as much history as the Leafs shouldn't ever be expected to do anything beyond fulfill the strict letter of his contract.

    After all this, I probably will. That bothers me.

  5. @Stpehen,

    My advice to Mats...stop talking and play the game.

    This is probably great advice. And I suspect it's what Mats has wanted to do all along. Well, at least the "stop talking" part.


    Dan is a regular around here, so I'm sure he'll see your comment and get in touch with you.

  6. i hope you're not accusing mats of 'punching the clock'. kovalev punches the clock. jagr punches the clock. never mats.

    i agree there should be more between employee and employer than pushing money back and forth. but can you honestly say that MLSE (or the various owners over the years) did more 'above and beyond' their role as employer than mats did in his role as employee? i doubt it.

    re: the 'not wanting to play anywhere else' soundbite... if we believe burke, it sounds like mats did have a soft spot for TO but burke closed the door on him.

  7. Hi. Nice post. I started to leave a comment but it got a bit lenghty, so I've posted it here instead.


  8. It's sad, and rather pathetic, that you keep bringing up the money. You're the one acting like the princess and it amazes me that you keep bringing up the same nonsense over and over and over again.

  9. There seems to be a lot of confused thinking here.

    Sundin should stop talking?
    Sundin hardly spoke a word throughout the whole ordeal of having the team he played for during the majority of his career, and who he wanted to retire with, desperately want to 'cash him in' to the highest bidder at the trade deadline. He hardly spoke a word about playing this year or which team he would choose. The press, and especially the Toronto press, have offered a dungheap of innuendo and conjecture about his motivation. A majority of the Leaf Nation comments that I have seen are the result of a ton of fabrications made by ignorant people with no credibility, who then accept this straw-man as conventional wisdom (using the term very loosely).

    Think for a moment about the logic that stated that Sundin 'owed' the team the right to trade him for the highest offer. The Leafs management gave him a no-trade contract, what part of that do you not understand? If you have a problem with that, it is with Leaf's management. Sundin's loyalty had never been questioned until he refused to be traded away from the team. So, presumably, the only way to prove your loyalty is to accept the disloyalty of your partner. That's absurd.

    It's strange, I am a Vancouver fan, and throughout that whole ordeal last spring, my admiration for Sundin grew immensely. He clearly wanted badly to retire as a Leaf, a point further driven home by his attempts to find a deal with them this year. He is clearly a man of principle. He is also one that refuses to 'go public' with his side of the story, even though it has cost him considerable support from the community that he was so much a part of. The bitterness displayed by some of that community is just plain ugly.

    As a Vancouver fan, I was sorry to see Burke leave, but I blamed the ownership of the day, not Burke. I was happy to see him win a Cup in Anaheim. This side of Leaf Nation is just a whole bunch of malcontents, whining, and blaming the wrong person. To those who continue to support Sundin, I feel for you, hopefully, Burkey can take away some of that pain.

  10. @asymsynap...

    The Leafs management gave him a no-trade contract, what part of that do you not understand? If you have a problem with that, it is with Leaf's management.

    Believe me, nobody's holding Leaf management harmless here. Ferguson handing out NTC's like candy was one of the many disasters that Leaf fans still hate him for.

    But it's not unfair to point out that many players have NTCs, and players with NTCs are traded every year. The Leafs had every right to explore a deal and to present options to Mats, and it wasn't unrealistic for them to expect him to accept a deal.

    He clearly wanted badly to retire as a Leaf, a point further driven home by his attempts to find a deal with them this year.

    There were numerous reports that the Leafs offered Sundin an extension after he declined a trade, and he refused to discuss it (and later was upset that the offer leaked out). That's the sort of "have it both ways" approach that left a lot of Leaf fans with a bad taste.

    I don't think we'll ever know what happened this summer. However, the idea that Sundin desperately wanted to stay in Toronto and was pushed out just doesn't match reality.