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Mats Sundin practices with Canucks @NHLdotcom

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -Mats Sundin practiced for the first time with the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday after signing as a free agent before Christmas.

The 37-year-old center said he delayed his return to the NHL until his desire to play had been restored. He played with Toronto during the 2007-08 season.

"Last year was frustrating," he said. "We struggled. It was a mixed emotional season. When I look back at last year I really enjoyed playing. Hopefully I can pick up where I left off."

Sundin wasn't scheduled to be in the lineup for Tuesday night's game against Philadelphia and wasn't sure when he would debut with the Canucks.

"I feel the Canucks have a good enough team to be strong in the playoffs," he said. "I hope I can contribute and bring my game back the way I played last season."

The former Maple Leafs captain ended five months of speculation Dec. 18 when he agreed to spend the rest of the season with the Canucks. The Swede will earn about $5.6 million.

He is a nine-time All-Star who scored 32 goals last year with the Maple Leafs. He is Toronto's all-time leading scorer with 987 points (420 goals, 567 assists) and was the team's captain in 10 of his 13 seasons there.

Sundin, 6-foot-5 and 231 pounds, brings size and a scoring touch to a Canucks team that already is sound defensively. Entering Tuesday night, the Canucks were second in the Northwest Division with a 20-14-3 record for 43 points.

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