February 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Mats!

Dear Mats Sundin,

Happy 37th birthday, big fella! Old? Hardly! You've still got the goods, my man.

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all the best on this very special day. Hopefully after you blow out the candles, you can take to the ice and blow out the Buffalo Sabres. And let me take this opportunity to pass along my sympathies to you for having to spend your birthday in Buffalo. That is just awful.

It's tough not to wax nostalgic on a day like today, especially when your future in Toronto remains so cloudy. Will you stay? Will you go? If you go, will you come back? Tough questions. In a couple of weeks we'll have the answers, but I just want you to know that no matter what decision you make, I, and most other appreciative Maple Leafs fans out there, will support you. We owe you that much.

You came to Toronto a boy and I have watched you age gracefully into a man. It has been a pleasure. You've been my favourite player since I was 13 years old. Thirteen - the day of your birth, the number on your back, and the day of my birth, in September, and the number I've worn, as well. Coincidence? I think not.

You are like a fine wine - you get better with age. And now, today, when I look at you, I still see one hell of a hockey player, with a lot of gas left in the tank. More importantly, I see a leader of men. You inspire your teammates and your fans. You want to complete the "journey" and go through the trenches with your comrades in order to win a Stanley Cup. You don't want to win it as a rental player, on a team new in a new city, because it's just not the same. That's what makes you so special, Mats.

Your birthday present on this special day? With the return of Alex Ponikarovsky, you're getting a healthy Maple Leafs team. Well, Mark Bell is still on the injured list, but let's be honest, other than getting beat up he wasn't doing much when he was in the lineup.

Cheers, Mats. Here's to you. And another 37 years. You're my man, for life.

Your homeboy,