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Trying To Figure Things Out

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs

Just when you think you’ve got it figured out…

If you are like me, you did a double-take when you learned Mats Sundin was going to skate at a Right To Play charity game Friday at the Air Canada Centre.

Sundin likes the charity and certainly Right To Play has positioned itself as a go-to charitable endeavour for athletes in all sports. Its mandate - to use sport to promote progress and healing in countries around the planet - fits beautifully with Sundin’s internationalist view of the world.

But if he likes the charity that much, he might have just stayed in Sweden and written a check. Instead, he rejected the comfortable seclusion of the Swedish countryside for the invasive questions of the Canadian media.

Why would he do that unless he had something to say?

And what would that something be? Certainly not that he was going to take the Vancouver Canucks’ $10 million a year.

What did that leave? Well, re-signing with the Maple Leafs or retirement. It all seemed to make sense.

Sundin will meet with Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher sometimes this week or next, but the longtime Leafs captain insists he is no closer to making a decision than before. Speaking on a Toronto radio station, he said he is still wrestling with whether to play, let alone whose jersey to wear.

“I'm just trying to follow my heart,” he said.

“I haven't even looked at the other options. I want to deal with the first question first. My first question is ‘do I want to play any more?’ I have to get past this question of whether I want to play or not.”

“I wish I had a date or a timeline in which I could tell everyone what I'm going to do,” Sundin said. “But I don't know. So I can't say anything yet.”

For his part, Fletcher has no feeling on what Sundin might be thinking.

“I don’t think a sales pitch on anybody’s part would be effective even if we wanted to do it,” Fletcher said. “We just want to sit down with Mats and try to get a better feeling for exactly what he’s thinking.”

Sundin has not skated over the summer but it probably doesn’t matter much; it would take a month of intensive training camp to return to top condition. It used to work that way for hockey players all the time.

So forget about an early decision and when you think about it, it all kind of makes sense. Hockey players feel no pull to play in the summer, they are conditioned to move about like a cheetah that has just hunted and consumed a wildebeest.

Let September ease into November. Let muscle memory do its work.

And then…I have no idea. This is, after all, Mats Sundin we are speaking about.
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