As Blood, Sweat and Tears put it, "What goes up must come down. Spinnin' wheel got to go 'round..." That's kind of how I'm feeling about the whole Sundin Saga these days. The rumours go round and round and still there's no real story. Every day the same non-news is taking up print inches, bandwidth and airtime for no good reason. And the arguments are getting so very repetitious and tedious.
In the media, it goes a bit like this:
Sundin's translated comments from a Swedish newspaper say: "I have three very good offers on the table from Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, but I haven't yet decided if I want to continue my career. After thirteen years in Toronto, it feels like home. If the decision were only about money, Vancouver is in a class by itself. If it were only about money, I'd have signed with Vancouver already." The Toronto media interpret that to mean the captain isn't writing off the city he made home for the last thirteen years. The Vancouver media believe Sundin is stalling for the appropriate amount of time so it doesn't look like it's just for the money if/when he signs with the Canucks. Montreal media don't know what to think. All the pundits write about it, with the conclusion that we really don't know what Sundin's going to choose. One columnist even wrote an article about how people should stop trying to read between the lines, because there really isn't anything there to read. Sundin's a straight shooter and if he says he hasn't yet made up his mind to play, then he hasn't. It seems the guy just wants to be sure his body is ready for an 82-game grind at thirty-seven years of age.
The fans are worse though. It's like watching some particularly dumb lab rats run the same maze and never find the cheese. It starts with someone saying, "Well, if Sundin wants to play for a contender, he'll play for Montreal," followed by, "Yeah? Well, he's too loyal to Toronto to sign with their worst enemy. Anyway, if he was going to sign in Montreal, he would have signed when Gainey had his exclusive rights and the Leafs would have at least gotten something for him." That's followed by the "Yeah, but the Leafs treated him so badly by trying to force him to waive his no-trade clause, then trading his rights, he just wants them to suffer, so he'll sign in Montreal." Then the Canucks fans chime in, with "The Canucks are just as good a team as Montreal, with better money on the table, so Sundin will sign there after an appropriate amount of time to make it look like it was hard to choose the cash." Which sparks Habs fans to reply, "He's already got enough money. He doesn't want the travel in the west and if he wants to end his career with a Cup, he'll sign in Montreal." And Leafs fans join in with, "He'll sign in Vancouver because he doesn't want to play Toronto six times a year," while Habs fans counter "He'll sign in Montreal because he does." The never-ending argument just goes round and round, and the only relief will come when Sundin signs with someone. Because there won't be a more shocked person on the planet than me if the big bald Swede really does decide to pack it in.
When he does pick a team, I really hope it's the Habs. There's not a more perfect player available out there for the Canadiens. He'd fit in the lineup like a dovetailed drawer...seamlessly and smoothly. But if he does decide to go with the Leafs, Canucks or no one, I (probably futilely) hope that decision doesn't open a Pandora's box of vitriol directed at Bob Gainey. I don't want to hear that Gainey could have tried harder, or spent more money or sacrificed a goat to get Sundin in a Canadiens' uniform. The bottom line is, he made what we can assume is a fair offer without sacrificing other important players from the lineup, or hamstringing himself capwise like other GMs who'll have to dump salary before the season opens. I'm sure the attractions of playing in Montreal have been adequately explained to Sundin. The easy travel, great hockey environment, skilled linemates, playoff potential, and salary have been laid out before him like treasures at the feet of a king. If he chooses elsewhere, it won't be Gainey's fault.
It won't be Sundin's fault either. Whatever he does, he's never given any team's fans a reason to think he's theirs. So, if he chooses Vancouver, I hope Habs fans respect both him and his right to choose that team. At least, whatever happens, the rumourcoaster will finally stop. Hopefully before we all get motion sick.