Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Happy Hockey Day!

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Today, apparently, is Hockey Day in Canada. Wooo-hooo!

What is Hockey Day in Canada? Umm...well I’m not exactly sure. I’ll take the less-cynical road and say it seems to be a creation of CBC sports to promote our national winter game. On the CBC website they have a page listing all sorts of amateur hockey events across the country, which are also being covered on CBC TV. And tonight there will be three big NHL games featuring all six Canadian teams.

The sports pages of today's newspapers, meanwhile, are filled with stories about...

the return (Toronto Star)

of former (Globe & Mail)

Leafs captain (Toronto Sun)

Mats Sundin (National post)

to Toronto wearing a Vancouver Canucks jersey. Sundin, of course, was one of the all-time greatest Maple Leaf players.

To put a book spin on this, sports writer Mike Leonetti’s volume Maple Leafs Top 100 (Raincoast Books) pegs Sundin at #12 on his list of the 100 all-time greatest Leafs, and essayist John Iaboni points out in the book that Sundin has always been a class act.

Writes Iaboni:

When Sundin became the first player to reach the 500-goal plateau while wearing a Leaf jersey with his dramatic short-handed goal in overtime against Calgary on October 14, 2006, he once again showed his class. Introduced as the game’s first star, Sundin responded to the cheers of the fans by clapping his support for them.

(That’s Mike Leonetti in the video above talking about his book and some of the greatest Leafs. You can watch Sundin’s 500th goal in the video.)

The big question the newspapers are asking about tonight is, will Sundin receive cheers or jeers when he steps onto the ice at Toronto’s ACC? I know that if I was there, I would be on my feet clapping and cheering loudly. But I also know that there will be some people (I suspect a fairly small minority) who will be booing Sundin.

The big grudge such people hold against Sundin is that he didn’t wave a no-trade clause in his contract last spring so that the Leafs could rent him out to another team in exchange for valuable players and draft picks. Such people try to villainize Sundin for this, but to me the real villain in the process was Leafs management, who were trying to pressure him into changing a contract that all parties had supposedly signed in good faith.

I’m a die-hard Leafs fan, but it will be a great pleasure to watch Sundin (on tv) return to Toronto. I hope he scores, though I don’t want to see Vancouver win. (They probably will, though, given how the Leafs have been playing.) I think fans who hold a grudge against Sundin don’t understand the man and are looking for some kind of scapegoat to vent at because of the incompetence that has pervaded so much of the rest of the Leafs organization.

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UPDATE: Well, the game was both classic Sundin and an all-too-familiar pattern for the Leafs this season. Up 2-1 over the Canucks in the third, the Leafs were unable (once again!) to hold that lead and lost the game (once again!) in a shootout. Who scored the winning shootout goal for Vancouver? You guessed it: Mr Clutch player himself, Mats Sundin. Oh, and as for the crowd, as predicted, the reception was overwhelmingly positive. There were two standing ovations, drowning out the clutch of losers who booed.

6 comments

woot !

@filmprof - "the Leafs are now poised for a strong 9th place finish" ...everything old is new again.

I can't help but be jaded. After another win tonight, the Leafs are now poised for a strong 9th place finish in the conference... too awful for the post season, too good for a decent draft pick.
THE FIX IS IN!

@calisaurus - Sundin, Sedin & Sedin...yeah, very confusing, especially when the later two are identical twins.

@filmprof - tsk! tsk! tsk! Our (ex)Captain would never stoop so low.

filmprof - you are definitely jaded! i heard a mix of claps, woots and boos for Sundin but mostly just cheers. great game for toscala until the very end! it must be confusing to be on a team with one Sundin and two Sedin's... it was confusing me all night.

The fix was in on this game. A coincidence that Sundin scores the winning goal in a shootout? A coincidence that the Oscars were only a day away? No. The script was already written. The fix was already in. It was too good of a scenario for them to pass up.
Ok, so I'm jaded.