Sunday, February 24, 2008

Brave Captain

Mats Sundin has come out and formally refused to waive his no trade clause.

As much as I’d love to see the Leafs loaded up with prospects, I strongly believe Sundin has earned the right to decide his fate.

Had Sundin been traded, I fully expected the media and other mouth breathers to take lots of pot shots at the Leafs over the treatment their captains have historically received - from losing Rob Ramage in an expansion draft to the weirdness that is Dave Keon (could the JFJ orchestrated “reunion” have been more awkward? I fully expected someone to produce a doll and ask Keon wher the Leafs organization touched him).

But is the fate of so many Leaf captains really an anomaly?

Not if you look at how the other 29 clubs have treated the men who wear the C.

Consider:

All thirty clubs have either traded one of their past three captains or lost them to free agency.

Prior to Koivu, the storied Habs had traded their six previous captains.

Detroit dealt Danny Gare before Stevie Y could wear the C.

Of the last six men to captain the Oilers, four were traded, one was stripped of the captaincy and one was lost in an expansion draft. Their cross-province rivals in Calgary actually demoted a captain to the minors, traded three others and lost one to free agency.

Modano, Lecavalier, Conroy, Desjardins and Elias all lost or resigned their captaincy.

In fact of the nearly 120 players who have been team captains in the past 15 or so ears, only eight retired with their clubs and two of them (Laus and Primeau) retired prematurely due to injuries (although, I guess the same could kinda-sorta be said of Lemieux as well...)

Scott Stevens, New Jersey
Al MacInnis, St. Louis
Steve Smith, Calgary
Steve Yzerman, Detroit
Paul Laus, Florida
Keith Primeau, Philadelphia
Mark Messier, New York Rangers
Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh
Scott Mellanby, Atlanta

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So four of the NTC5 have said no, leaving just McCabe as possible trade bait.

Considering there's just a $750K difference between Kubina and McCabe's cap hit and the extras McCabe brings to the ice, I'd prefer the Leafs hold on to McCabe and ship out Kubina this summer.

3 comments:

  1. Paul Steckley11:43 am

    As much as I would have loved to see the Leafs get an extra 1st round pick and good prospect for Sundin, I'm happy with his decision, and in particular for the reasons behind it. Like Sundin, I don't like the rent a player scenario. It was a tactic that was employed by the Leafs in the past, never worked, and, in part, has led to some of the problems they face now as an organization. Nashville did nothing more with Forsberg in their lineup last season than they would have done without him. Even more so with Atlanta and Tkachuk.

    I also think its admirable that Sundin recognizes that winning a Cup as a rent a player would not have the same feeling as if he had won it with an organization with which he had a greater connection. Ray Bourque won his Cup with the Avs but nobody ever associates him with Colorado and I wonder if he himself does. A lot is said and written about the lack of loyalty in modern professional sports and it's refreshing to see that it does still exist.

    Lastly, I think Sundin's decision will have an impact on the younger players in the Leafs system. I think it will cause them to have a greater bond with their captain and the team, knowing that he was not prepared to cast them aside for personal gain. That potential gain could prove much more valuable than prospects or draft picks. The Leaf organization needs a fundamental epiphany, and perhaps this will be the impetus.

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  2. I'm happy Sundin stayed, but then again, I would have been ok with him leaving as well. After all he is the one who wanted to still honor his contract instead of going back on it.

    I would also like to see Kubina out, juts because I know we could actually get something for him (plus I can't stand him for reasons unbeknown to me. Seriously, it makes no sense.) At least, as far as I know, Kubina hasn't inspired anything like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU_RCwy7fi4

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