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Inside the Locker Room -- Season Finale Part 3

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Mats Sundin

(On the loss) I think it's a little heartbreaking the way we lost. I think that's a team we matched up against, can play at the same level they do, it's frusterating when you see the team's that are left, obviously they're all playing very well, but we should be one of the last four teams if you look at the teams left now. (CBA Expiring) That's professional sports now-a-days, especially when you have a collective bargaining agreement, hopefully we have all that settled by the fall, but it's really something you have to get used to as an athlete, and you see many teams, 2, 3, 4 years later on any team there's a lot coming in and out of the lineup, so we'll just prepare for next year and hopefully we'll have as many guys back next year as possible. (What was the injury?)One of the groin muscles were torn, it was more just getting the strength back to the leg, and it came back a lot quicker than we thought so I was able to play. (Chronic pain?) Nope, when I started playing in game two, it was almost back to normal. It was on the breakaway when Tie gave me the puck against Ottawa there, and I tore the muscle right off the bone. It's something that the doctors are getting better at seeing. In the second period before that I pulled my groin a little bit, and on the breakway I tore the muscle off the bone, it was on the breakaway just skating in on that, so it wasn't when I slid into the boards. (World Cup?) I hope so, it's next fall, but something I would love to be a part of for sure. (Curtis Joseph left because he felt the team couldn't make the next step...) We all make different decisions, Curtis made his and whatever he feels is best for his family and his career, I'm very proud of being a part of the Maple Leafs, the organization and the team, and I definately think this organization and this team has enough to get to the Championships, we had a great chance this year, we have been out in the conference finals a couple of teams while I was here before. It's a fine line, you see the teams that are moving on now. I hope I'll be a part of this organization and the future here, the next few years. Everybody wants to keep me here, and I'm very happy to be here. (Is age a factor?) We have a great hockey team, and we're not 25, but at the same time you look at how we prepare ourselves, you look at a guy like Nieuwendyk in the playoffs, Gary Roberts, Ron Francis, Brian Leetch, all these guys, Ed Belfour, we're in our 30s and still going strong and playing with all the younger guys in the league, so I'm not too worried about the age, I think it's more of a mental state of mind. Next year I'll be 33 at the start of the year, and 34 at the end, and I'm comfortable with that. (Do you ever think of playing somewhere else?) I never say I wish I were somewhere else, I feel blessed to be in this league, a part of this team, and I feel every year coming into camp, it's disappointing to get beat out of the playoffs, but I think there's a lot of teams that don't make it into the playoffs that have great lineups, they wonder what happened to their seasons. We've had the last 4, 5, 6 years on the brink, I think we have a great drive in the dressing room, we have great expectations, I think the organization has great expectations, we always strive to be the best we can be and try to win, and as long as you have that I think that every year you give yourself the chance to win the championship. When we have that attitude here, and I think the management has shown this year again that they're doing everything they can to make us win, I don't care where you are around the league, or wish you were somewhere else, you're not going to see a better chance for a team to win. (What now has to happen to get you to the next level?) In one way we've all gotta get better, I gotta improve as a player when I go home in the Summer, and that goes for all of us on the team, I wish we could say if we get a player, or if we change that we're gonna win, it's not that easy. I think when you have a dressing room the way we have, you have the players we have in the room, the effort the players put out there, and you keep bringing that every day the way we did in the regular season, and fighting through injuries, and keep coming back with that kind of character you're going to get rewarded, but we didn't get that this year, and I don't have any excuses for it. But I think if we come back with the same kind of effort we can get rewarded. (Could coaching be a problem?) I think the coaching, the last 5, 6 years has shown that we can be successful, I mean it's as simple as that, it's all up to us to get a little better. (Given your age and contract would you like to see the CBA hammered out sooner than later?) Well you gotta really hope that there's gonna be a deal done, they have the whole Summer to work it out, for sure, and with the World Cup coming up too it'd be a great start to next season, and training camp right after, we're all praying for that, and I hope that the league and the players are going to get a deal done. (Do you know who's going to win the Cup based on how they played the Leafs this year?) Not really, we haven't seen too much of San Jose, and Calgary we've seen a couple times, and it's a toss up really. (Do you feel the team has underachieved?) I think you have to have high expectations, our expectations were to win a championship, and if you look at it that way we came up short. There's no way around that, and we'll have to find a way to be better next year. (Relationship with Quinn) I think it's been good, with the success the team has had and the way we've been playing I think it's been good. (Is it coaching or instinct that dictates what happens on the ice?) It's everybody together, players and coaches, we're all responsible for what happens on the ice, and how we do.

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