So it's all but official: Mats Sundin will become an unrestricted free agent within a few hours.
No big surprise here. We all know the story of Mats Sundin's Summer of Angst by now. The poor guy just can't make up his mind about what he wants to do next year. Toronto? Montreal? New York? Detroit? Does he even want to play at all?
In a league where atheletes seem to make career altering decisions over the course of a few hours, Sundin's drawn out thought process has been unusual, to say the least.
There are really only two explanations for Sundin's behaviour:
- He's being sincere -- he really doesn't know what he wants to do yet, and he doesn't want to commit to anything before he makes up his mind
- It's all been an act, part of either a bargaining tactic or a way to leave Toronto without actually saying he wants out. Or both.
“I’ll be surprised if the reason for delaying is that Mats doesn’t know whether he wants to play again after having such a good season with us last year,” said the GM. “He told me he never enjoyed playing hockey as much as he did last season. So, we’ll see where it goes."But only time will tell. And it will tell this week, because the game changes tomorrow.
Up until now, Sundin's indecision hasn't come with a cost. Well, that's not completely true -- it's probably cost the Leafs any chance of getting anything in return for their departing captain. But it hasn't cost him anything.
That all changes tomorrow. History has shown that free agents who want the big dollars almost always sign on July 1. Sometimes you can wait a few days and still get paid. But once the initial gold rush is over and cap space has vanished, teams tend to get pretty stingy in a hurry.
Every day Mats waits now will cost him. If he waits weeks or even days, it could cost him millions. So put aside whether he signs with Toronto or elsewhere. We're going to learn a lot about Sundin and his summer sideshow this week.
If Sundin is still on the sidelines after this week, we'll at least know that his indecisiveness is sincere. On the other hand, if he's signed on the dotted line this time tomorrow, we'll know it was all a big charade, a public relations campaign to get him through to July 1 and the big money he was waiting for.