February 22, 2009

Mats Sundin: The Return...



The game on his stick, Mats Sundin did what he's done so many times in a blue and white jersey on Air Canada Centre ice: he sealed the deal. This time, wearing green as well, he did it to the Toronto Maple Leafs, instead of for them. And it was beautiful.

I doubt I could have written a better script: A beautiful standing ovation in Sundin's honour. Sixty-five minutes of entertaining hockey. A 2-2 game. A shootout equal at one. And Sundin, the yet to be replaced former Leafs captain, with the final word.

Backhand. Shelf. Stick side. Money.

A triumphant, and fitting, return. The game-winning goal. A first-star selection. And I was there. It was perfect.

Let's talk about that epic first period ovation. Leafs fans showed their class, and gave it up for their captain. I'm not sure I've ever heard the ACC any louder. The game waited. Chants of "Sundin! Sundin!" broke out. Mats got emotional. There may or may not have been some dust in my eye, causing severe discomfort to the point of tears. All of a sudden, my overpriced purple seats were worth every penny. It was magical.

Throughout the game, I hollered in support whenever Mats touched the puck. Some made the wrong decision to boo #13, but my fears of being severely let down by the Toronto faithful thankfully did not come to pass. Sundin was well received, as he should have been, and both Canucks and Leafs fans were cheering when he put the puck in the net to end the game.

Of course, there were the token douchebag Sundin haters. I happened to run into two of them after the game. The clowns, one of them with Xs through Sundin's name and number on his jersey, were yelling "Mats has the clap! Mats has the clap!," and talking smack to anyone in a Sundin jersey, myself included. As you can tell, really classy individuals.

Long story short, I: may or may not have engaged them in some intellectual conversation hurled some obscenities their way, am impressed by the promptness of security folk at the ACC, take the Mats-hating of others, especially drunk morons, way too seriously. For I am eyebleaf, "Lord of the Idiots."

While it was Sundin's night, I can't write about being in attendance without mentioning Vesa Toskala. He was fantastic. Went save-for-save with Bobby Luongo, the best goalie in the world, and looked good doing so. Way to not slut it up while I was in the building, Vesa.

Back to business. You know, I have memories of Sundin in a Quebec Nordiques uniform, so many years ago. I don't, however, remember him scoring against the Maple Leafs, although I'm pretty sure he did. After last night, I'll never forget.

About a year ago, we never got to properly say thanks, or say goodbye. Last night, we got to do both.

Thanks for everything, Mats. Including one more magical night. While you'll forever remain a Maple Leaf to me, you're now officially a Vancouver Canuck. Go and get that Cup.

12 comments:

woodpeck said...

We Agree! FANtastic response from the crowd all night. the cheers and boos were purrfect. and to end it with him scoring the SO winner, could not have been written better in Hollywood!

general borschevsky said...

Great post. What drama! It was an awesome night. We thought of you several times. Glad you were there for us.

Junior said...

We were thinkin' of ya last night. Compelling game, class reaction by the vast majority of Toronto fans, great theatre at the end. Certainly one of the few Saturday nights I'll remember fondly from this season (even Wendel's night is tainted by the hairball the Leafs coughed up in the 3rd).

Lori said...

I'm so glad you kicked some assss. Mats is worth it. Mats will always be worth it.

Searching For '93 said...

Nice!

wrap around curl said...

You didn't post my present I made youuuuuuuuuu.

Bhattorious said...

He got a little bit of everything....Boos and Cheers...i did both as well...

Stan the Caddy said...

Great post. The soak of the year.

Ian H. said...

Beautiful! I just remembered that my brother had a Mats Sundin Nordiques rookie card back in the day. No idea where it is now.

Escaped Lab Rat said...

Great to see the fans treat him with respect. I was hoping we wouldn't get a reaction similar to what some of the fans in Philly might have given him. And that shootout goal was a picture-perfect ending.

twentyfifthhour said...

The Leafs Fans made me proud on Saturday night. They proved me wrong, that they are not fickle and are classy and appreciative. I'm glad to call my self a Leaf faithful and raise a beer with the rest of them for every goal.

eyebleaf said...

You are all rudeys. What's left to say? Mats Sundin is the greatest.