Count me among those who think there’s still a chance Mats Sundin will play for the Toronto Maple Leafs when he returns to the NHL. I’m not saying that’s what will definitely happen, but I do know Sundin sees himself above all as a Maple Leaf.
In fact, I believe what’s causing him to delay his decision is the fact he has trouble seeing himself wearing any other uniform.
In any event, should Sundin move on and finish his career in another uniform, it would continue a dubious trend for the Maple Leafs, who like to lead people to believe they’re so rich in tradition. Did you know that no player for the Leafs has retired with the ‘C’ on his sweater since Ted Kennedy in 1955-56? It’s true former captains George Armstrong, Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour all finished their careers in Toronto, but none was the captain when he retired.
Here’s how the Leafs stack up in that department against the other teams in the NHL:
Anaheim: None yet, but if Scott Niedermayer can ever make up his mind about retiring, he’ll be the first.
Atlanta: Scott Mellanby retired as captain after the 2006-07 season.
Boston: Rick Middleton was co-captain when he retired after the 1987-88 season. Before that it was Terry O’Reilly in 1983-84.
Buffalo: Gilbert Perreault retired as captain after the 1986-87 season.
Calgary: Steve Smith retired as captain during the 2000-01 season.
Carolina: Dave Keon retired as captain of the Hartford Whalers after the 1981-82 season.
Chicago: Dirk Graham retired as captain after the 1994-95 season.
Colorado: Nobody yet, but Joe Sakic is destined to retire as the Avalanche captain, perhaps after this season.
Columbus: Nobody yet.
Dallas: Jean-Paul Parise (Zach’s dad) retired as captain of the Minnesota North Stars after the 1978-79 season.
Detroit: Steve Yzerman retired as captain after the 2005-06 season and Nicklas Lidstrom is destined to do the same in the future.
Edmonton: Surprisingly, none.
Florida: Nobody yet.
Los Angeles: Bob Pulford retired as captain after the 1971-72 season.
Minnesota: None yet, but 10 guys would have to retire after the same season for that to happen.
Montreal: Bob Gainey retired as captain after the 1988-89 season.
Nashville: Greg Johnson retired as captain after the 2005-06 season.
New Jersey: Scott Stevens retired as captain during the 2003-04 season.
New York Islanders: Nobody yet. Denis Potvin retired an Islander, but Brent Sutter had taken over the captaincy by that time.
New York Rangers: Mark Messier retired as captain after the 2003-04 season.
Ottawa: Laurie Boschman retired as captain after the 1992-93 season and Daniel Alfredsson is destined to retire as captain as well.
Philadelphia: Keith Primeau retired as captain after the 2005-06 season.
Phoenix: Lars-Erik Sjoberg retired as captain of the Winnipeg Jets after the 1979-80 season. Shane Doan could do the same some day.
Pittsburgh: Mario Lemieux retired as captain during the 2005-06 season.
St. Louis: Al MacInnis retired as captain after the 2003-04 season.
San Jose: Doug Wilson retired as captain after the 1992-93 season.
Tampa Bay: Dave Andreychuk retired as captain during the 2005-06 season and Vincent Lecavalier will likely do the same in the future.
Vancouver: Orland Kurtenbach retired as captain after the 1973-74 season.
Washington: Even though he played in the minors before officially hanging them up, Rod Langway's last NHL game was with the Caps.
Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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