Sundin wouldn't be a big enough Band-Aid for the Canucks

 

TORONTO -- Whether the Vancouver Canucks should trade for Mats Sundin is not the question.

 
 
 

TORONTO -- Whether the Vancouver Canucks should trade for Mats Sundin is not the question.

OK, well, it is the question.

But before we answer it -- before we weigh what the Canucks would give up, and what the Toronto Maple Leafs would accept, and how Sundin would fit on a team wearing that same damned orca, even after all these years. Seriously, people: Go with the throwback jerseys. And we're not talking about the ones involving orange.

No, the first question comes down to one man, and one answer: Would Mats Sundin accept a trade to Vancouver? All we ever hear out here is how he doesn't want to leave Toronto, despite its swift and embarrassing descent into laughingstock land. Maybe he's dissembling; maybe he could be convinced. But until Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher can convince Mats to waive his no-trade clause, this isn't even a conversation.

But let's say the organization finally convinces Sundin that he needs to go, and that he has no future in Toronto. Fine. But for the Canucks to rent Mats Sundin, or even extend the 37-year-old Swede, doesn't make an awful lot of sense. If you're going to rent Sundin, you had better be on the cusp of serious contention, and the Canucks -- the same Canucks I cheered for as an impressionable youth -- are not there. They're not close.

It used to be that every 12 years a Canucks fan could reliably not expect a stunning run to the Stanley Cup final, where our dreams would be crushed. But nowadays, the Canucks are not even good enough to ride one of the great goaltenders of our age anywhere, even in an era where a hot goaltender and a gritty team can take you as far as, say, the 1982 or 1994 Canucks.

Sundin is still a very good player. He's not quite great, but he's not experiencing any significant drop-off in performance or drive. Add him to Vancouver, and a ninth-place team becomes ... what, a fifth-place team? With Sundin, does Vancouver get out of the first round, or do the Canucks get suffocated by Minnesota, or Dallas, or Anaheim, or San Jose? And if Sundin loves Toronto as much as he says, he'll likely head back to the big smoke in free agency, anyway, and you've sacrificed the most valuable asset in the NHL -- young, cheap talent -- for the privilege.

Even with a contract extension, all Sundin does is provide a Band-Aid until he inevitably decides to return to Sweden and live out his years in the company of some blonde or another. Mark Messier couldn't bring a Cup to Vancouver; Sundin won't, either. And if he can't, Vancouver might as well just let the idea go.

 
 
 
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