Mats Sundin – a true legend, icon, and personal hero retires

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.

Read the full story in the continuously updated article (other sources: TSN, CBC, Twitter).

A hero returns to Air Canada Centre

It’s story telling again, cause this is one amazing story to be told. Yesterday marked another day in history for Swedish NHL player Mats “Sudden” Sundin as he returned to his old home Air Canada Centre, the home of Toronto Maple Leafs. Sundin spent 13 years in Toronto, the majority of them as captain and the sole foundation of the team – before signing for Vancouver Canucks this season. Most talks before the game regarded whether the home fans would embrace Sundin, or actually boo him because of the move. He got off to a frosty start, it seemed the hardcore fans of Toronto had not forgotten his decision to move and he was given a tough time at the warm up and introduction. However, in the first commercial break, Sundin finally got his standing ovation and gratitude that he deserved. Fighting back tears, Sundin was actually the one breaking it all off by telling the linesmen to “drop the puck, I can’t take it anymore”. It could have lasted forever.

As this wasn’t enough, the game was tied at 2-2 and the OT didn’t decide things – we were going into a shootout. With the shootout quickly approaching, Canucks announced that Sundin would be taking the 3rd and final penalty against his old team. Of course, it was a fairytale ending, with Sundin hitting home a ‘patent’-backhand move against Vesa Toskala in the Toronto goal to win the game for Vancover. Check out the shootout, 3rd star ovation (he got one of those as well), and post-game interview below.

“A class act, for a class act”.

I can highly recommend ESPN360 for those of you who weren’t able to see the game because of your provider. It’s a fantastic service, one I’ll gladly pay for.

Swedish stories: Mats Sundins tårar i natt (AB), Sundin Hyllad (DN), Sundin hyllades och avgjorde i återkomsten (HockeyExpressen).

Also check out other blogs about Mats Sundin (via Twingly) or other Swedish blogs about Mats Sundin (via Knuff).

Lidas tar över som kaptenernas kapten?

Alltså. Sudden kommer alltid vara kaptenernas kapten för mig, han är urtypen för en ledare och kommer förmodligen kunna livnära sig riktigt bra på att tala om ledarskap hos stora multinationella företag i framtiden. Men fan, inatt blev Lidas första europé att vara först med att lyfta Stanley Cup bucklan, enligt Ormen är det bara en amerikan (Modano, eller?) och Lidas som inte har varit Kanadensare och lyft bucklan som kaptener. Det är sjukt stort. Galet egentligen. Varken Börje Salming eller Sudden har ju lyckats med något liknande.

Det börjar dra ihop sig, på lördag kickar EM igång – vilken fest! Det känns ju inte speciellt lovande att Sverige fick stryk av ett Ukrainskt b-lag, men annars känns allt helt okej. Tobbe Stenhård måste komma tillbaka i form och Zlatan/Henke (eller vem det nu blir som parar med Z) måste helt enkelt leverera, vi kommer inte att få många chanser oavsett motstånd känns det som. Grekerna är tighta, ryssarna har ett antal #10 i sitt lag som kommer ha lekstuga med eventuell balansspelare om inte Tobbe är 100. Och sen är det ju spanjorerna förstås, det känns farligt bara man nämner Fabregas och Torres. Tänker man sen dessutom på att de har Joaquin, Silva, David Villa och resten av grabbarna i startelvan så är det nästan ruskigt. Men Sverige gjorde det i kvalet, läge igen?

Hatet har börjat mot Greken på jobbet. Om Sverige förlorar måste jag nog säga upp mig, jag kommer inte tåla att titta på han varje dag. Fan. Heja heja!

Sweden rules the world of hockey

The NHL stats for points – total points, regular season

RK Player Team Pos GP G A P +/- ESP SHP PPP HmP RdP DvP ODvP P/G
1 Henrik Zetterberg DET L 9 7 10 17 5 9 0 8 6 11 4 13 1.89
2 Mats Sundin TOR C 10 6 11 17 8 12 1 4 16 1 6 11 1.70
3 Paul Stastny COL C 9 5 9 14 1 10 0 4 12 2 3 11 1.56
4 Daniel Alfredsson OTT R 9 6 7 13 2 8 1 4 11 2 6 7 1.44

NHL Trophy Case 2006/2007

Art Ross Trophy:
Top Point Scorer in the NHL
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Calder Memorial Trophy:
Rookie of the Year
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Conn Smythe Trophy:
Most Valuable Player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs
Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks

Frank J. Selke Trophy:
Top Defensive Forward in the NHL
Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina Hurricanes

Hart Memorial Trophy:
NHL Most Valuable Player
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Jack Adams Award:
Coach of the Year
Alain Vigneault, Vancouver Canucks

James Norris Memorial Trophy:
Top Defenseman in the NHL
Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings

King Clancy Memorial Trophy:
Leadership and Humanitarian Contribution
Saku Koivu, Montreal Canadiens

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy:
Player who Displays Gentlemanly Conduct
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

Lester B. Pearson Award:
Most Outstanding Player as Selected by the NHLPA
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Maurice Richard Trophy:
Top Goal Scorer in the NHL
Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning

Vezina Trophy:
Top Goalie in the NHL
Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils