Saturday, 29 October 2011

Does Sundin deserve to have his Leafs jersey retired?

Apparently Mats Sundin will have his jersey number retired by the Toronto Maple Leafs. I think this is not a deserved honour, it actually cheapens the gesture. Players who have their jersey retired should be titans who ruled the NHL and whose names are synonymous with excellence. Further, this player should have played the vast majority of his career with this team. Finally, playoff success should be a major considerations.

Let's analyze Mr. Sundin's case. While he was an All-Star in his years in Toronto, he didn't win a scoring championship or any major individual awards. He only scored over 100 points once, and did so as a Nordique, and never scored 50 goals, reaching 47 once and 41 on another occasion. He had limited success in the playoffs, contributing offensively but never taking his team deep into the playoffs. Finally, his first four seasons were spent in Québec, and he finished up in regrettable fashion in Vancouver. He did show loyalty to the team, but some in Toronto argue that he should have waived his no-trade clause in his last season, when he had already made up his mind that he wouldn't re-sign with Toronto in the summer any way.

To honour him by retiring his jersey speaks to the hunger of Toronto fans for success and champions more strongly than it does about the standard he set for future Leafs. It's not as bad as Vancouver fans and the organization thinking of retiring Pavel Bure's number, but it does debase the practice.

Some may feel that I'm too critical of Mr. Sundin. They may bring up his success in international play, which I appreciate but is not germane to this issue.

I have spoken on this issue in the past, and I don't think the Canadiens are above blame on this issue. I believe the only jerseys that should be retired in Montreal are numbers 1, 4, 7, 9, 10, and am unsure about #33. The others who are presently retired should be honoured in another way, maybe like is done in the NFL in Pittsburgh and Denver, for example, with a Ring of Honour or some such method.

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