Mats Sundin played for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1994 to 2008. Over his tenure with the team, he was their captain and their leader. He’s currently the franchise leader in goals and points and was considered one of the best power forwards of his era.
Sundin was selected as an NHL All-Star six times and helped the Maple Leafs reach the Eastern Conference Final in 1999. In this post, I’ll share seven cool things about the former Maple Leafs captain.
Cool Thing #1: Mats Sundin Was a Huge Player
One of the surprising things about Sundin as a player is just how big he was. He stood 6-foot-5 and weighed 231 pounds. His reputation is that he was known as a physical player on the ice. He was strong on the puck and had good body control.
The Maple Leafs’ current biggest player is Pierre Engvall, who’s also 6-foot-5, but “only” weighs 215 pounds. Maple Leafs’ fans probably think of Jake Muzzin as a huge defenseman, but he is small compared to Sundin. Muzzin is 6-foot-3 and weighs four pounds less than Sundin at “only” 227 pounds.
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Cool Thing #2: Sundin Was One of the Most Successful European Players
Sundin was one of the most successful European-born players to ever play in the NHL. He is currently one of the highest-scoring European-born players in NHL history.
Related: THW’s Cool Things Collection
Sundin was a prolific scorer during his NHL career. He ended with 564 career goals and 785 career assists (for 1,349 points) in 18 NHL seasons. He is also currently the only Swedish-born player in NHL history to score 500 or more goals.
Cool Thing #3: Sundin Was the First European-Born Player Drafted #1
Sundin was the first European player to become a first-overall draft choice in the NHL Entry Draft. He was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques as the first-overall choice of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.
At the time, Sundin was a highly-regarded prospect who had just completed a standout season with the Swedish team Djurgårdens IF. The Nordiques believed his size, skill, and offensive abilities would make him a strong NHL player. They were correct.
Sundin played eight seasons in Quebec before he was traded to the Maple Leafs. He played 13 seasons with Toronto.
Cool Thing #4: Sundin’s Trade to the Maple Leafs Was Key
Sundin was traded to the Maple Leafs from the Nordiques on June 28, 1994. It was a huge trade for the Maple Leafs. However, at the time there was some pushback from Maple Leafs’ fans because one of their most beloved team members – Wendel Clark was moved east.
In the deal, the Maple Leafs sent Clark, Sylvain Lefebvre, Landon Wilson, and a first-round pick (Nashville Predators’ pick which became Brad Brown) to the Nordiques in exchange for Sundin. At the time, they needed a first-line center and he was considered one of the best. The season before the trade, he had scored 110 points.
Cool Thing #5: Sundin Has Long Tenure as Maple Leafs’ Captain
Sundin served as the Maple Leafs’ captain from 1997 to 2008. During his tenure, he brought several important qualities to the team. These included his locker-room leadership. He was also a vocal presence on the ice.
Sundin led by example; he demonstrated a strong work ethic and determination. He was not only the team’s highest-scoring player but also one of the team’s hardest-working players. In short, he was a uniting force on the team
Cool Thing #6: Sundin Played for the Maple Leafs During Team’s Famine
Sadly, during his time with the Maple Leafs, Sundin-led teams had mixed success. Although the Maple Leafs made the playoffs several times during Sundin’s time with the team, they were not considered a strong team. The Maple Leafs, as noted earlier, did make the Eastern Conference Final in 1999.
However, the Maple Leafs also struggled in Sundin’s later years and regularly failed to make the playoffs. The team simply could not find consistency. It lacked depth and never surrounded him with enough talented players to make a deep playoff run.
Cool Thing #7: Sundin’s Maple Leafs’ Legacy Is Solid
Despite the Maple Leafs’ lack of success during Sundin’s time with the team, he was always a consistent performer both on the Maple Leafs and in the NHL. He was also one of the best players in the league.
Because he was mostly the “show” in Toronto, he remained a fan favorite who was beloved for his hard work, determination, and leadership. Both on and off the ice, he will have a lasting legacy as part of the Maple Leafs franchise.
Imagine Sundin’s Career if the Maple Leafs Would Have Been Good
Not everything about Sundin’s time with the Maple Leafs is “cool.” During the second half of his career, the team was in a constant rebuilding process. They were never really a contender during his tenure. Still, he played at a high level and was a model of reliability and consistency during his career.
Sundin was a 200-foot player, who could be counted on both offensively and defensively. He was one of the team’s top scorers every season. Furthermore, he remained that same kind of consistent player in over 1,300 games with the Maple Leafs.
Sundin is one of the Maple Leafs’ greatest players ever.