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06 December 2008 @ 10:26 pm
Sundin, NHL's Overrated Overlord  
Mats Sundin is perhaps the most overrated player in the game today. Labeled a superstar, some will attest to his lofty point total. 1,321 points in 1,305 games. Yes. Very impressive. But the numbers are more a testiment to his durabilty and consistancy, rather than true greatness. He is the captain of one of hockey's most storied franchises, yet has never demenstrated any of the traits which go along with the title.

Despite his career totals, his seasonly point output has been suspect. After an impressive 114 point season with the Nordiques, where he played alongside the likes of superstar Joe Sakic, Owen Nolan and Valeri Kamensky, he dipped to 85. Following a blockbuster trade, he went to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In his 11 full seasons with The Blue & White, he has averaged a grand total of 78 points a season. 78? That's it? Yet he was given captaincy and called a superstar? Superstars produce. They don't complain about their linemates. Especially when they played with the likes of Alexander Mogilny, Wendel Clark, Dmitri Khristich, Sergei Berezin, Steve Thomas & Bryan Berard. The true hallmark of greatness is making the players around you better. Dale Hawerchuk, Denis Savard, Jaromir Jagr, Steve Yzerman, Peter Stastny & Sidney Crosby. These gentleman would easily have racked up 100+ point seasons playing with this stellar cast. The glaring difference from a star and a superstar.

Sundin's leadership also must be examined. While with Toronto, Team Sweden is the only place where this trait was demenstrated. Mats is the captain. Captains usually lead by example. However he seldom does on a consistant basis. Mats doesn't buzz up and down the ice, creating scoring chances galore while putting his head down & backchecking like a demon. Does he? Instead of gazing into oblivion while on the bench, Sidney Crosby & Adam Oates would frequently commune with their fellow linemates. Motioning with their hands where to go and what to do. That's the dedication necessary in order to become great. Talent without devotion and hard work is meaningless. His leadership was equally inept in the playoffs. Sundin never strapped the Maple Leafs on his back and excelled.

Though clearing not a superstar, The Blue & White paid him a premium salary. Often in the seven million dollar price range. Yet, when the Maple Leafs asked him to waive his no-trade clause. He would not. Sundin couldn't see himself playing for another team at that time. His devotion to the team. Even though he could always just resign in the summer. After receiving a facsimile award for "leadership", Sundin announced his intent to explore his opportunities. Where's the devotion Mats? The devotion that cost the Maple Leafs young, blue chip prospects? Would the great Darryl Sittler pull such high jinx? Would Borje Salming?

The Toronto Maple Leafs are a great franchise. They invested a King's Ransom into Mats Sundin. They and their loyal fans deserved a better return. The dividends that Crosby, Hawerchuk, Jagr, Savard & Dionne deliver(ed)on a consistant basis. Is Mats Sundin overrated? I leave the answer to you, the reader.
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