So, it was nice to hear Mats Sundin’s press conference today. It sounds like Vancouver was pretty much his first choice from the beginning. He loves us! He really loves us! He sounds really excited, so I’m feeling a little more excited. You never know, it could work out. The transcript is below.
• Why Vancouver? “I called J.P. (Barry, his agent) a little bit over two weeks ago and said I want to compete in the National Hockey League and compete against the best players.”
• “We had a lot of different things that he presented to me but the first option has been Vancouver since we started to look at the different teams and I’m very thankful for the belief the Vancouver organization has had in me as a hockey player.”
• Did Sundin talk to Canuck blueliner Mattias Ohlund? “I know Mattias from playing in the Olympics, obviously, and I just wanted to get a feeling about how the team felt about adding another player in midseason … I have been teams and any time it changed in the middle of the season … those are things that affect what’s going on in the dressing room.”
• “Personally I’m very excited to get to compete again against the best players in the world.”
• To pick a team thats going to win the Stanley Cup is impossible.”
• I think the Canucks have a team that’s going to compete … play in the playoffs and I’m very excited to be a part of that team.”
• “Who knows what’s going to happen when the playoffs start?”
• “I’m thrilled about getting the chance to play again.”
• On going to another Canadian team: “It was definitely a factor. I spent my whole NHL career in Canada, it has been my home for over 13 years, I enjoy living in Canada, and knowing Vancouver has a great hockey franchise, great hocket fans, that’s an environment I like. I know I enjoy that kind of atmosphere.”
• Is he close to retirement? “You have to do stuff in the summertime, I wasn’t ready to do that mentally or physically. … You start to watch games and you realize, I’m 37 years old and you never know how long your career’s going to last and when it’s over.”
• What made Vancouver the pick? “I think in the back of my mind I always had the response we got the first of July from Vancouver that they thought I was a player they wanted in the organization, that I was a player that could still help the team. To me Vancouver was the first choice.”
• On the first meeting with Canucks management in Los Angeles: “I’m very thankful for Mike Gillis, first of all being very patient. I think just overall the conversations I’ve had with Mike Gillis about the team … has made a great impression on me as a hockey player and as a city.
• Does he feel like a rental player? “I definitely know it’s not a perfect situation … it’s going to be a challenge … to push myself to make sure I’m in the absolute best shape I can be in and that’s something I’m going to have to work on right away. I hope I can come in and be a part of what the Vancouver Canucks has been doing so far this year.”
• “I think it was nice for me to talk to Mattias Ohlund, one of the guys in the dressing room, get the feeling the players thought it would be a good addition to the team. I think overall, as I said, Vancouver’s been in my mind the first choice, but at the same time J.P. (agent J.P. Barry) presented me with a lot of different options and … I felt overal that Vancouver was the best fit for me.”
• Is it difficult to leave Toronto? Were the Leafs an option? How about playing in Toronto on Feb. 21 vs. his old team: “Toronto’s been my home for 13 years, I have friends in Toronto, I always will have, its always going to have a part of my heart and it’s always going to feel like home coming home to Toronto. I look forward to the game — it’s going to feel good coming into the Air Canada Centre. playing against the Leafs is going to be tough and interesting. I just hope (Toronto fans) respect my decision as a player.”
• “I think the Vancouver Canucks … have shown tremendous belief in me as a player and there is no doubt if there’s anything I can do to help the team, so (leaving money on table) was an easy decision.”
• On playing in the Western Conference: “Im excited about it. I always enjoyed going out west playing hockey … it’s a great hockey tradition, the city and the fans care about the team and many of the teams in the division are the same way… I’m really looking forward to it.”
• “I think it’s pretty fair for myself and for the organization as well, I think, to evaluate my own play… it feels like a good way to approach it and put some pressure on me to perform.”
• Is he thinking about the 2010 Olympics? “Not really. I do take it almost by day now in my hockey career. Fourteen months is a long way away.”
• On the Canucks: “They have a lot of great players, obviously everybody knows their players, they have the absolute top goaltender in the league (in Roberto Luongo), I think they have a chance to compete and go far in the playoffs.”
• On potential Canuck linemates: “That’s a coach’s decision … I’m going to make sure I’m in the top shape I can be and I’m going to leave it to the coaches.”
• “I think Vancouver’s a beautiful city, it’s one of my favourite spots to go visit … I’m looking forward to living in Vancouver and for me it’s a good decision to keep living in Canada.”
• On only catching the Canucks live recently in Los Angeles: “I watched the Canucks in spurts, but I’m going to do some work watching now for sure.”
• “Being in the dressing room with a hockey team is something I’ve done my whole life and really cherish … I think that itself (made me feel) I want to give it a run and play (again) in the National Hockey League.”
One of my main problems with getting Sundin was that he would mess with the great chemistry in the dressing room, but going by the guys reactions, I don’t think that will be a problem. Some player comments from the Financial Post.
“My impression of him comes more from my time on Team Canada in the world championship two years ago in the final.
“You know when he has the puck, he’s so big. He stands out from everybody else. He demands a lot of attention and opens up room for other guys.”
“We’re obviously excited, he’s a very good hockey player and he’s going to help our team.
“He had a few questions about our team [when Sundin spoke with Ohlund on the phone Thursday], and I told him it was a great place to play. It’s a great young team with a lot of potential, and everybody knows he’d be a good fit on our team.”
“I was excited. To add him to a group that is already winning some games, it makes me real happy.
“I know off the ice there won’t be any issues. He’s just a great person. On the ice, I know everybody wants to play with him, so it’ll be fun.”
“I watched him play on the national team every chance I could. Of course, I was happy when I heard the news. How could I not be happy to hear there’s another Swede joining the team?”
“It’s exciting for the province of B.C. and the organization to bring in a player of Mats’s stature.
“As a player who wants to win, it means a lot that you have a GM who’s proactive and wants to bring in a player of his calibre. Seeing him make moves like this instills confidence in this dressing room.”