The name "Mats Sundin" has a special meaning for us Swedes, it will forever be connected with Gold. When he plays for Sweden, the road to victory and medals has begun. He is a great leader on ice and he raise the standards for any team he plays for.
Many Swedes remembers what he meant for the Swedish team in the World Championship Final of 1991. Sweden played the Soviet Union, and Mats scored the match winning goal for Sweden. It's a real classic goal in Swedish Ice hockey: Mats pass the Soviet defense player Fetisov and score 2-1. The goal meant Gold Medals for the Swedish team in the Championships.
Mats' career in World Championships is impressive:
* Winner of the Scoreboard in 1991 and 1994.
A classic game for us Swedes is against Finland. The fight are always very tuff and close, and they have a special meaning to our countries. However, Mats has good memories in meeting Finland. In the meeting of 1991 he scored 3 times for Sweden, and his last 2 goals are classical goals that gives us goose bumps even today. Finland leads 4-2, when Mats scores his second goal 19.08 into the 3rd and last period. Finland has to face a Mats Sundin in great shape this evening. It only takes Mats a few secs, 19.23 into the last period, to tie the game 4-4. It shows what an efficient player he is when he gets the chance.
I, myself, was honoured to see him in action in 1997 (Toronto vs. Detroit). Mats scored the 1st goal for Toronto. However, Detroit came back and they were in the lead 4-3 in the final period and Mats was in for a 2 mins penalty. I kept my eyes on the official time, he was gonna be back on ice with only 40 secs left to play of the game. Somehow, I had the feeling he was gonna score, and the feeling showed to be correct. From the penalty, he gets the puck and skates into offensive zone, dribbles the goal keeper and forces the puck up high in the net with a back hand shot. The game was tied, 4-4.
Mats was very early a hot talent player in the eyes of the NHL scouts, and at the age of 19 he turned professional playing for Quebec Nordiques. Mats was, as the first European player, the No.1 choice in the NHL draft in 1989. His first season in NHL was very successful, 23 goals and a total of 59 points. The 1991-1992 season gave him 74 points and during 1992-1993 he got 114 points. However, he was only gonna play one more season for Quebec as the team decided to trade him for Toronto's Wendel Clarke, after a season where Mats "only" reached 85 points.
Mats took the move to Toronto as the big player he is. He showed the team and the audience that he had come to Toronto, not only to play good ice hockey, but also to take the team higher in the NHL scoreboards. Up till today, he has proved not only that he is a great player, but also a respected and great leader on the ice. A quality that gave him the big 'C' on his dress. A big honour, as no European player had been team Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs team before. And he has shown, that with the right spirit among the team players there are no teams that can be safe in the NHL nowadays.
Mats Sundin is now not only a great player and leader, he has turned out to be one of the Super Stars of NHL today.
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Club: Toronto Maple Leafs