Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Mats Sundin Week continues here at Third String Goalie as the Toronto Maple Leafs are set to honor former captain Mats Sundin by adding his jersey #13 to the ranks of the numbers honored by the franchise this Saturday at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs are unique in their policy of honoring a player's number, but allow those honored numbers to again be worn by future players, reserving outright number retirement for those whose careers end due to misfortune while a member of the Maple Leafs following an outstanding career while playing for Toronto.
The Maple Leafs moved into the new Air Canada Centre in January of 1999 and Sundin finished the season as the team's leading scorer the fifth consecutive season while extending his 30 goal streak to four consecutive seasons. Toronto immediately made the deepest playoff run since Sundin's arrival in Toronto in 1994. The Maple Leafs finished the regular season with a 45-30-7 record for 97 points and entered the playoffs as the fourth seed in the east, drawing the Philadelphia Flyers as their opponents. Once the Flyers were dispatched in six closely fought games, four of them by a single goal, one of those in overtime, Toronto advanced to face the Pittsburgh Penguins, another series which went six games, with three one goal games, two of which required overtime.
While Toronto fell in five games to the Buffalo Sabres, Sundin would finish the postseason with a career high 16 points from 8 goals and 8 assists in 17 games.
The 1999-00 season was a memorable one for the fans in Toronto, as the club played in the annual Hall of Fame Game on November 20, 1999 as part of the weekend celebrations at the Hockey Hall of Fame, mere blocks from the Air Canada Centre, which included the induction of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
Sundin wearing the one game only Hall of Fame Game patch
above the season long NHL 2000 patch
Later in the season, the Maple Leafs hosted the 50th NHL All-Star Game. Along with Sundin being named to the World Team roster, he was joined by teammate Dmitry Yushkevich and goaltender Curtis Joseph also played in the game, only with Joseph being a part of the North American squad. At the conclusion of the season, Sundin kept intact his trio of streaks, 30 goals or more (with 32), 70 points or more (73) and leading the Maple Leafs in scoring for the sixth consecutive season.
Maple Leafs teammates Sundin and Joseph ended up on opposing teams
thanks to the World vs. North America format for the 2000 All-Star Game
After leading the club in scoring for the seventh consecutive season in 2000-01, the Maple Leafs would sweep their opening round series against inter-province rivals the Ottawa Senators before taking eventual cup finalists the New Jersey Devils to a full seven games. Sundin would play in 11 postseason games that year, scoring 6 times and totaling 13 points during a run of six consecutive playoff appearances for the Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs 2001-02 season was one of celebration, as the franchise was recognizing their 75th Anniversary as the Maple Leafs. The club began life in 1917 as the Toronto Hockey Club (or "Blueshirts"). They changed their name to the Toronto Arenas in 1918 and the St. Patricks following an ownership change in 1919. Conn Smythe purchased the team in February of 1927 and immediately changed the team name to the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 17, 1927 while the season was still in progress.
Sundin wearing the throwback Toronto St. Patricks jersey
At the conclusion of the 2001-02 season, Sundin led the Maple Leafs in scoring for the eighth consecutive season, thanks in part to the third 40 goal season of his career with 41. While Toronto would once again reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the right to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002, Sundin would only see action in 8 of the Maple Leafs 20 playoff games due to an untimely wrist injury.
Today's featured jersey is a 1999-00 Toronto Maple Leafs Mats Sundin jersey. This jersey features both the 2000 NHL All-Star Game patch to celebrate the Maple Leafs hosting of the 50th All-Star Game as well as the NHL 2000 patch worn by all the teams for the 1999-00 season.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1999-00 Toronto Maple Leafs Mats Sundin jersey as worn in the annual Hockey Hall of Fame game held each year in Toronto in conduction with that year's Hall of Fame Induction Weekend. What differentiates this jersey from the standard jerseys worn during the remainder of the regular season in the one game only special patch.
Extra Bonus Jersey: Our extra bonus jersey is a 2001-02 Toronto Maple Leafs throwback Toronto St. Patricks Mats Sundin jersey. In recognition of the franchise coming under the ownership of Smythe and changing their name to the Maple Leafs 75 years earlier, the club wore throwback Toronto St. Patricks jerseys, complete with brown pants, during a 3-3 tie against the Buffalo Sabres on March 2, 2002, a game in which Sundin scored two goals.
In today's video section, Sundin excites the home fans with a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Such was the level of Sundin's popularity that he regularly appeared in TV commercials. Here's a classic one with Wayne Gretzky for McDonald's.
Not everyone was a fan of Sundin however.