This is very sad news for Tre Kronor (Team Sweden) as well as hockey world wide. Today at a press conference in Sweden (Swedish), Mats Sundin announced his retirement from professional hockey at the age of 38.
I would have loved to play until the age of 65, but as a hockey player you obviously retire a little earlier than that.
To me, Mats Sundin is the greatest hockey player to ever come out of Sweden, and possibly the greatest leader sport has ever seen. One can of course always discuss what impact the likes of Lidström, Forsberg, and earlier players such as Salming had on the game – but to me, Sundin is simply in a class of his own. Before every major national competition (Olympcs, World Cup, so on and so forth), there’s always a discussion regarding what stars that will play for their country; for Sundin however, the answer was always as clear as the Caribbean waters – he always played and he always led.
Here’s a video of the press conference earlier today (in Swedish):
Toronto is and will always be my second home.
Of course, with Sundin having close to God-like status over in hockey-land Canada, this story has already been picked up by local news over in Toronto. They’ve even been kind enough to do a recap video of Sundin’s legacy with the Leafs. Sundin ends his career as the longest-serving European captain in NHL history and the top scoring Swedish and Toronto Maple Leafs player in NHL history (564 goals, 785 assists and 1,349 points). A truly remarkable record.
I posted a piece on Sundin’s return to Toronto earlier this year. He came there as the enemy with his new club Vancover Canucks and was booed for about 10 minutes of the first period. Not the reception that myself, experts, or fellow players would have expected. Once the crowd had settled down though, he eventually got what he deserved. It still gives me goose bumps.