Apologies for the delay, naps are only your friend in small doses. I'm breaking from tradition and talking to one of the biggest Sundin fans I know today, since he dropped the puck. I asked Navin about a few things.
1. Mats Sundin is dropping the puck tonight. He's a first-ballot hall of famer. Go ahead, tell me about Mats. What's his legacy with the Leafs look like?
I tweeted early on Saturday morning: time has been, and will continue to be, very kind to Sundin's legacy in Toronto. First-line centres you can build a team around are very hard to find, and I think -- I hope -- that as time goes by, people will realize not only how good Sundin was, but for how long he played at an elite level. Let nobody tell you otherwise: Sundin was criminally under appreciated during his time in Toronto. For a lifelong Sundin supporter like myself, it made his first-ballot induction into the Hall of Fame -- criticized by many -- that much sweeter. Finally, Sundin was given his due. He gave the Leafs the best years of his hockey life in the dead-puck era, and his resume speaks for itself. Greatest Maple Leaf of all time. History doesn't lie.
As for his legacy, the Leafs never had to worry about Sundin. Night in and night out. Year in and year out. Would he show up? Would he rise to the occasion? Would he face the opposition's toughest competition, and lead the team? Yes. Yes. Yes, and yes. He always did. That's his legacy.
Sundin's time in Toronto didn't end the way many would have liked, but that's life. Shit happens. Things end. Poorly, for the most part. That's why they end. But I refuse to let Sundin's departure hang as a shadow over his Leafs career. That's petty. Sundin earned the right to not waive his no-trade clause. He owed the Leafs nothing. To think otherwise is foolish.
I dream of a Toronto where Mats Sundin is as revered as Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour. It'll never happen, but that's my dream.
2. In the words of Mike Komisarek, "Jake Gardiner is free." Was there a coupon I missed?
Jake Gardiner spending half the season in the AHL, after making the NHL's All-Rookie Team last season, while Mike Kostka and Korbinian Holzer played top-pair minutes with Dion Phaneuf, is about as Toronto Maple Leafs as it gets.
Since Gardiner's recall, it's clear that he's the best skating defenceman the Leafs have -- he's a delight to watch. His ability to lead the rush, his patience, and his first pass out of the zone means he's got a very bright future. The only thing that stands in his way is, unfortunately, well, the Leafs. I'm just glad he's finally back up.
3. How 'bout them Blue Jays?
I haven't been this excited about a Blue Jays season since the spring of 1993. Toronto is excited. People are talking about the Blue Jays. Lord knows this town needs -- and deserves -- a winner.
Also: fuck John Farrell.
And, finally, the Bruins' domination of Toronto ends tonight. Ok, fine, it probably doesn't, but I have to believe it will. Without hope, we ain't got a damn thing. And, trust me, I speak from experience.
lol this is going up after the game starts, oh well.