It seems the city has erupted in euphoria over yesterday’s signing of Mats Sundin, as they should. However, there are a few out there who, surprisingly, don’t see the benefits for the Vancouver Canucks. I will list a few of the benefits to enlighten those who don’t see them.
1. Absolutely no risk. We did not lose any players or draft picks. The Canucks had $10 mil in free cap space and there was no way in hell we were going to be able to fill that up to maximize our chances for the Cup any other way. It would have meant wheeling and dealing draft picks for underachieving stars which would have destroyed our future in the process. Besides, this is not our money, it’s the Aquilinis. They’re freakin loaded so who gives a fuck.
2. Finally, a big first-line centre. We have suffered versus teams such as the Cup contending San Jose Sharks in the past for two reasons: not enough grit and nobody to face Joe Thornton 1-on-1. The first problem was resolved in the offseason by Gillis by shifting from Nonis’ wussy team to a much more grittier team. Joe Thornton has been a thorne. Now, Sundin can battle him 1-on-1 and Sundin may not win every time but will put up a huge fight. Sundin and Thornton used to have epic battles several years ago when Thornton was with Boston and they faced off often.
3. Wellwood to Sundin, scores! These two had tremendous chemistry together in Toronto. I remember Wellwood was averaging 2 pts per game at one point.
4. The flexibility of the line-up is limitless. Finally, Sundin has so many skilled players to complement him unlike in Toronto. Play him with Demitra, Raymond, Wellwood or heck even try him on the wing with the Sedins or Kesler guys. Sundin does indeed make players around him better. Remember the career year Darcy Tucker had playing alongside Sundin. Tucker has never come close since.
5. Another leader in the dressing room. We have so many great character guys in the dressing room already and it never hurts to add more. Sundin was a captain in the toughest media circus in North America.
6. He’s both consistent and a game-changer. Sundin is known as a workhorse who has been averaging 1 pt per game since the beginning of his career; the epitome of consistency. He’s also clutch in pressure situations, scoring that winning goal when needed.
7. Linden likes him. Enough said.
8. Pressure is off the Sedin twins. No longer will the Sedins face the top d-men of teams. Instead, teams will have to succumb to the twins’ telepathy.
9. We just scared the shit out of the rest of the Northwest division. The Oilers GM Steve Tambellini said before the signing that Edmonton would have to reevaluate and make some changes if the Canucks got Sundin. Phone lines in Calgary, Minnesota, Colorado and Edmonton are burning up as we speak.
10. The signing legitimizes Vancouver as a favourable destination for superstars. This is a message to the league that the Canucks are for real and serious about winning. Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Peter Forsberg anyone? Now we actually have a chance.
11. We get to stick it to Toronto. That’s a good enough reason alone. We took their top leading scorer of all time. Now let’s try to snag Kaberle.
12. He’s a winner. Sundin captained the Swedish national hockey team to a gold medal in 2006. It doesn’t get any better than that. That winning aura should spread.
13. Our team is stacked. We have the #1 goalie in the world, top 3 defence and our 8th place goals for should now move up to top 5. Add intangibles such as grittiness. We are now officially contenders.
So there you have it, 13 benefits of the Sundin signing. I didn’t even add the fact that he is getting better with age. His break will certainly help too. Sources close to him say he is in the best shape he’s been in a decade. Now let’s just hope we get a healthy Luongo back and the team gets on a roll before the playoffs. Then, nothing can stop us.