Why Mats Sundin should be the next addition in Legends Row

The talk in Toronto that Mats Sundin may not be included in Legends Row, or that some fans don’t believe he should be included in Legends Row is disappointing to one of the greatest Leafs to ever wear the Blue and White.  His incredible individual success and, more importantly, his outstanding team success (I’ll explain more later) should make him a clear shoe-in for Legends Row.

*Note: Mat Sundin accomplishment much over his nearly 2 decades in the NHL, but for purposes of this blog post I’ll be focusing only on his 13 years in Toronto and not on his immense international success.

You can break down any formers Leafs accomplishments in Toronto in two broad categories, their individual success and the success they brought the team. We’ll look at Mats’ career from both of these perspectives.

Individual Success as a Toronto Maple Leaf

When looking through the Leafs record books it’s almost comical how many times Mats Sundin’s name comes up. For a team that has been around for nearly a century to have 1 player hold so many of the records is truly outstanding. Some of Mats Records….

  • Most Points – Mats Sundin, 987
  • Most Goals – Mats Sundin, 420
  • Most Power Play Goals (124), Most Game Winning Goals (79), Most Over Time Goals (15) and even Most Short Handed Goals (23), you guessed it…. – Mats Sundin

The only offensive category he doesn’t hold the record for is most assists, were he’s 2nd behind Salming with 567. And who knows, if Roberts or Mogilny had shown up a couple years earlier he may hold that record as well.

Besides that sheer amount of goals and points he put up whats remarkable is the consistency in which he put them up with. Not looking at the lock out shortened season in which he began his Leafs career Mats all time low in goals was 27, being on pace for 30+ goals in each of his 13 seasons, while never dipping below 70 points. Of his 13 seasons in Toronto he lead the team in points all but one season.

Mats’ consistency and elite status was recognized around the league, as a 9 time NHL All-Star (back when it was actually the best players brought to the game, and they actually would show up). As far as I could find, Mats holds the record for most All-Star elections in Leafs history as well.

Mats was a hero in the playoffs as well with 77 playoff games registering 32 goals and 70 points. 2nd mosts in points behind Gilmour and 2nd mosts in goals behind Clark.

No one ever questions Mats offensive skills and in terms of individual accomplishments almost nobody would question Sundin being if not the greatest, then comfortably one of the top 10 greatest Leafs of all-time, so I didn’t want to spend much time writing about that. What most under appreciate is how much success he brought this franchise as a whole.

Team Success as a Toronto Maple Leaf

In a hockey mad city like Toronto success is determined by one thing and one thing alone, the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is the one space where people often over look Mats’ accomplishments. Not only were they significant, they were greater than any Toronto Maple Leaf player has ever had since 1967.

During Sundin’s tenure the Leafs made the playoffs 8 times, with 2 conference finals appearances, 3 trips to the conference semi’s, and 3 first round exists. For those too lazy to count, thats 7 playoff series wins with Sundin as a Leaf.

Since the last time The Leafs won the cup, that’s more than…

  • Gimour – 4
  • Clark – 6
  • Ramage – 0
  • Vaive – 3
  • Sittler – 6
  • Any Leafs Captain since ’67
  • Any Leafs Player since ’67

Lack of Cups?

The only argument that can really be left to make is that Mats never won any cups, something a lot of other Leafs greats have. But it’s like people forget that to win the Stanley cup pre ’67 you had to…

  •  Be 4 of the top 6 teams in the league
  • WIN 2 playoff rounds.

The leafs had how many years were they were one of 6 teams who had a chance to win the cup? From 1927 The folding of the WHL, leaving only the NHL to compete for the cup)to 1967 (the end of the Original 6 era) there were anywhere from 6-10 teams in the League.

The Leafs won cups in….

32, 42, 45, 47, 48, 49, 51, 62, 63, 64, 67,

Number of teams in the NHL each of those seasons…

8, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6

If you put THAT much weight into some guy winning 2 more cups than Sundin back in the O6 era I really have nothing to say to you.  Looks at the number of NHL players from 57 to 67, how many of them have Stanley Cup rings? 6 teams, 220 cups rings handed out over that period, you do the math.

Conclusion

So to the members of Leafs nation who have other players in their potential Legends Row over Mats, why?

Is it because he’s scored more goals than any of them?
Is it because he has more points than any of them?
Is it because he won more playoff series than any of them?
Is it because he didn’t play in an era where you only have 6 teams? And have to win 2 playoff series to win the cup?
Is it because he wasn’t born in Canada?

No matter how you cut it, Mats is an all-time great, in Toronto. He wasn’t born on our soil but he’s loves this city and this team as much as any player can.

I have to ask MLSE…

Don’t forget when he scored on Irbe to force OT
Don’t forget his 4 goals 6 point game in Florida
Don’t forget his playoff OT half slapper on Lalime
Don’t forget our first European captain
Don’t forget his standing ovation in his return to Toronto
Don’t forget his hatrick, game winning, OT goal for #500
Don’t forget our leader, our all-time leader
Don’t forget Mats Sundin in Legends Row

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