Ever since Friday, I've been wondering, is this the day Sundin signs with Montreal? What a coup that would be! Up until now, it's kind of been a pipe dream...you know, idle speculation about who'd be the ideal player to beef up the roster, and how sweet it would be to obtain him. So, when I heard at the draft that Gainey had exclusive rights to negotiate with the big, bald Swede, I almost couldn't believe it. How often have we hoped and wished for a real impact addition, only to be denied time after time? But this time, it looked like Gainey has put some serious aggression into his pursuit of the guy he wants. The possibility of signing Sundin overshadowed the excellent trade of the twenty-fifth pick for Alex Tanguay. And the drafting of Danny Kristo, a six-foot-eight goalie (!) and a sleeper Russian hotshot. Once the word came that Bob had the okay to court big Mats, all else ceased to matter.
Only now, it's starting to look like maybe we got a little bit too excited a little too soon. Between rumours that the Habs have offered Sundin a two-year deal for a little more than fourteen million bucks, come reports that the Rangers actually had negotiating rights with Sundin before the Habs did. And Bob McKenzie, who's usually right, says Sundin thinks things are moving too quickly and has declined to meet Gainey in person, preferring negotiations to happen by phone. McKenzie also says he'd be surprised to see Sundin in Montreal, and not all that surprised to see him back in Toronto for another ride through the Futility Funhouse.
We all know Sundin is famously indecisive. It takes him months to make decisions. But the problem is, once the market opens on July 1, if Sundin hasn't signed with the Habs, Gainey is going to spend the money elsewhere. He's not going to leave six or seven million dollars on the table when there's a Centennial year Cup to be won. Or, at least, a very strong Centennial year playoff run to make. My fear is that Sundin is actually seriously considering the Habs, but won't decide in time. It would be a shame for him to make up his mind to accept Gainey's offer an hour after Bob's signed Campbell or someone else. On the other hand, if Sundin has absolutely no intention of signing with his favourite childhood team, then Gainey will know that before the market opens, so he can move on to plan B without delay. He won't get caught waiting for Sundin, for nothing.
I still think Sundin's the best option for the Habs. He offers everything the team needs: strength, leadership, skill, size and clutch performance. But you know what's funny? When I try to picture him in a Habs' sweater, I can't do it. I close my eyes and I see Kovalev carrying the puck up the right side. He enters the zone, and makes a nice, cross-ice pass to Tanguay (whom I have absolutely no problem imagining in the bleu-blanc-rouge), who beats his check with a nice move and makes a great pass into the slot to Sundin. Only, Sundin is wearing a blue and white leaf on his chest. So, I try again. I imagine Sundin making a great shot in OT, and throwing his arms up to celebrate, big grin on his face, and hugging Higgins and Kostitsyn...but it doesn't work. He morphs into a leaf before the Habs guys get to him. I'm sure it's just because Sundin's been a leaf for so long, most of us don't even remember him in a Nords' uniform. I'm sure if he were actually a Hab, we'd get used to it as soon as he scored his first Canadiens' goal.
Or, maybe it's a sign. I'd love Mats Sundin to be a Hab. It would instantly make the team formidable. But, the practical side of me is hoping Plan B is a good one.