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Gillis: Sundin decision in two days

by Staff /
It looks like decision day in the Mats Sundin sweepstakes will be Thursday.

Vancouver Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis met with the media Tuesday afternoon and revealed that the heavily sought-after forward will tell the world where he'll play this season in two days.

"He's going to make a decision on Thursday about the final destination, and we reiterated our position in all of this and formalized our offer moving forward," said Gillis, who has met with J.P. Barry, Sundin's agent, numerous times over the past few weeks.

"We feel good about our team and where we sit and what we have to offer, and we'll see how it plays out."

Sundin, a 17-year NHL veteran and the longtime captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is currently home in Sweden, according to Gillis, analyzing what his best move would be, playing for the Canucks or the New York Rangers.

"I think it's weighing two opportunities and having been on the players' side for a number of years, it’s always the same with guys, they’re weighing their opportunities, just like we all do with major decision in our lives," Gillis, a former player agent, said of Sundin's current thought process.

More than 10 teams expressed interest in Sundin on July 1, when free agency began. The 37-year-old narrowed his list down to Vancouver and New York last week.

As recently as Monday, there were reports from Toronto that Sundin had chosen the Rangers and that he would call New York home for the remainder of the season, but that’s simply not the case, Gillis said.

Gillis said the only things he believes are what he hears from Sundin himself.

"We wouldn’t be going through this process if a decision had been made," Gillis said. "Every time I've spoken with Mats, he's conducted himself with the utmost integrity, he's very careful about what he says and I find it difficult to believe that after going through this process that we wouldn't get a clear indication from the outset as to what he planned.

"I have tremendous respect for the guy and I just don't think he would be leaking anything out about what his plans were without coming to us first, because we've been here since day one."

Sundin was in New York last weekend to promote a poker Web site he's associated with. During his time in the Big Apple, he met with Rangers GM Glen Sather and watched the Blueshirts beat the Hurricanes in a shootout Saturday night.

After the game, Sundin met up with countrymen and current Rangers Henrik Lundqvist, Fredrik Sjostrom and Markus Naslund, who continued the recruiting effort.

"We met him after the game, and we talked a little bit. He loves New York," Lundqvist told MSG Network. "It comes down to a couple of teams now, and I really hope and believe he'll choose New York. But you never know."

Added Naslund, who joined the Rangers this season: "Coming to New York, you're in a unique situation. You get to play for the Rangers, which I think is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Playing in a city like New York has to weigh into his decision."

The Canucks have offered Sundin a multi-million-dollar, two-year deal. The Rangers would have to move some players to accommodate Sundin under the salary cap.

But the Rangers desperately need offensive help. They lead the Atlantic Division despite scoring just 88 goals in 33 games — they are on top of their division largely because they're 8-1 in shootouts.
Sundin, 37, had 32 goals for the Leafs last season and has put up 555 goals and 766 points for 1,321 points in his NHL career.

The nine-time All-Star is the Maple Leafs' all-time leading scorer with 987 points — 420 goals and 567 assists — and served as the club's captain in 10 of his 13 seasons in Toronto after coming from Quebec in a trade.

Sundin, selected first overall by the Nordiques in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, has 74 points (35 goals, 39 assists) in 83 career playoff games. He has also appeared in 65 games for Sweden and helped the Swedish team claim Olympic gold in Turin, Italy, in 2006.

Material from team Web sites was used in this report.

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