John Ferguson is entering his fourth season as general manager of the Maple Leafs. Ferguson became the 12th person in team history to hold the role when he was introduced August 29, 2003.
I am delighted that we signed our captain, Mats Sundin, to a one-year-contract.
That we agreed to a one-year deal speaks to a mutual respect between Mats and the club.
Mats is the definition of a secure person and a secure hockey player. It takes a player who is confident in his skills, who only wants to play at the level that he has established for himself, to sign that kind of contract.
Mats is in the class of a Teemu Selanne or a Joe Sakic, guys who are dealing with the balance of their careers on a year-by-year basis. They are careful and they are honest. They want to sit down and assess where they are physically and where they are in their career before deciding on the upcoming year.
What’s so exciting about the deal is that it sends a great message, to Mats’ teammates and to our organization that this is where he wants to play.
At this point in his career, he’s not motivated by the search for long term security. He already has that.
He wants to be a Toronto Maple Leaf. He believes in our team and in our city. He wants to win, and he wants to win right here.
Since I have arrived here, I have regularly heard from players who hadn’t realized how great a captain and a leader Mats was until they got here. What he has done for the Matt Stajans, the John Pohls, the Kyle Wellwoods, the Pavel Kubinas has gone undocumented. Paul Maurice will tell you the same thing. But when you’re around the club, at training camp, at practice, through the year, it doesn’t take long to find out how much of a leader he is.
On the ice, Mats is as productive and durable a player as this club has seen in its history. He continues to be a point-per-game player who plays 20-plus minutes a night, plays in all situations, and remains competitive and driven to lead this club back to the playoffs and to contend for a Stanley Cup.
Every year in the finals, you hear the story of a veteran player who hasn’t won the Stanley Cup but who has the respect and admiration of his peers. People want to see him get his due.
I foresee that story for Mats; more along the vein of a Teemu Selanne as opposed to a Ray Bourque. Ray had to leave Boston to win his Cup. Mats is determined to do it right here.