Saturday, February 11, 2012
It's the final day of Mats Sundin Week here at Third String Goalie as the Toronto Maple Leafs will celebrate the career of former team captain Mats Sundin by adding his jersey #13 to the ranks of the numbers honored by the franchise tonight 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.
In 2006-07, Sundin joined an exclusive club in fine style, as he became the 35th player and first Swede to reach the 500 goal mark, which he did in unbelievable style with a shorthanded, unassisted game winning goal in overtime to complete a hat trick! The goal gave the Maple Leafs a 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames in from of a delirious home crowd at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Sundin celebrates his 500th NHL goal
"It's an achievement not many players have reached in this league and, once I'm retired, I'm going to appreciate it even more. It's a special way to get it. I'll remember this day throughout my whole life," Sundin said following the game.
Even Flames captain Jarome Iginla had to admire Sundin on the night. "He was really going tonight. It was an amazing shot on that last goal. Not many people would have stopped that. He got a screen and he got it all. You don't want to call it a nice goal, but it was impressive," said Iginla.
Sundin wearing the Teammates for Kids patch in January of 2007
The 2007-08 season would prove to be Sundin's final season with the Maple Leafs and it was a memorable one for many reasons. On October 11th, Sundin broke the franchise record for most points with his 917th and, later in the same game, he registered his 390th goal which moved him into the franchise lead in that category as well, supplanting Darryl Sittler in both categories and earning first, second and third star of the game in the process.
He later became the first player in history to score 400 goals while with the club before later breaking an 83-year-old record for the longest home scoring streak with a point in his 15th consecutive game.
Somewhat controversially, he refused to waive his no trade clause late in the season, stating he did not want to be a rental player, and if he won the Stanley Cup, he wanted to do so over the course of an entire season. Staying with the club allowed him to lead the team in scoring that season for the 12th time in his 13 seasons with the Maple Leafs. He also holds the NHL record for the longest serving European born captain of an NHL franchise, at 10 seasons, and is one of only two players to record 20 goals in his first 17 NHL seasons.
He would play one final season in the NHL, signing a free agent contract after the first of the year, which allowed him to play in 41 games of the 2008-09 season, scoring 9 goals and 28 points to push his final career totals to 564 goals (2oth on the all-time list) and 785 assists (32nd all-time) for 1,349 points (27th all-time) in 1,346 games. He leads all Swedish players in all three categories as well as holding the record for the Most Games Played by a European born and trained forward.
Be certain to tune into tonight's broadcast of the Maple Leafs game versus the Montreal Canadians at 7 PM Eastern time on the NHL Network in the United States. In Canada, the game is part of Hockey Day in Canada, which begins at noon Eastern on the CBC, with the Maple Leafs game starting at 7 PM. In order to be on the safe side, we suggest tuning in to either network at 6:30 PM for the pre-game shows on the chance the ceremony is held prior to the puck drop at 7, rather than the ceremony beginning at 7 and pushing the start of the game back.
Today's featured jersey is a 2006-07 Toronto Maple Leafs Mats Sundin jersey, from the season Sundin scored his 500th career goal and 900th point as a Maple Leaf in one of his most memorable games of Sundin's career.
This particular jersey features the Teammates for Kids patch, as worn by Mats Sundin and the Maple Leafs on January 6th, 2007. As part of the program, each player on every team would play one game with the patch on their jerseys, which would then be auctioned off for chairity to raise money for the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation. This would result in over 600 game worn jerseys entering the market in a single go.
Today's featured video is Sundin scoring four points in the game on October 14th, 2006, concluding with him scoring his milestone 500th career goal shorthanded in overtime to complete his hat trick and defeat the Calgary Flames 5-4, sending the home crowd into euphoria.
Our next video has Sundin tying Rocket Richard on the all-time goal scoring list with his 544th NHL goal.
Here Sundin talks about playing in Toronto and having his number honored by the team.
Finally, the top ten Mats Sundin moments of his career, the game winning goals, being named team captain, breaking record and reaching milestones, all of which will be remembered tonight by the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.