STOCKHOLM -- Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin is retiring from hockey after nearly two decades in the NHL.
``It was a tough decision,'' Sundin told reporters Wednesday at a news conference at Stockholm's Grand Hotel. ``It's sad to tell you today that my career as a pro hockey player is over.''
The 38-year-old Swede, who said he reached the decision this fall, played for the Vancouver Canucks last season after spending most of his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He spent 13 seasons with Toronto, becoming the longest-serving European captain in NHL history, and he gave special thanks to the Maple Leafs organization.
``Toronto is and will always be my second home,'' Sundin said.
One of Sweden's key players in the 2006 Turin Olympics, where Sweden beat Finland in the final, he recently ruled out playing for his home country in next year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Sundin singled out winning Olympic gold along with playing in the NHL playoffs as the highlights of his career.
``It was a special experience,'' Sundin said. ``The NHL? All playoff games and reaching the semifinals twice.''
Sundin, an eight-time NHL all-star, is first among Swedish players with 564 goals, 785 assists and 1,349 points.
In 1990, Sundin became the first European to be the top pick in the NHL draft, but despite a long and stellar career he never won a Stanley Cup.
``It would have been fun, but I've experienced so much,'' he said.
Known as ``Sudden'' in Sweden, Sundin also won three IIHF World Championship titles with Sweden in 1991, '92 and '98.
After nine months on the sidelines, Sundin signed with Vancouver as a free agent in December last year and made his debut with the Canucks in January against the Edmonton Oilers. He recorded nine goals and 19 assists in 41 games, adding three goals and five assists in eight playoff games.
Toronto's career scoring leader, Sundin plans to return to Sweden with his wife later this year.
``I don't know if I'll be involved in hockey in the future,'' he said. ``But I will always have a close relationship with hockey. My love for hockey will always be there.''
Sundin also played in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City where he led in goals and points and made the tournament all-star team.