I'm happy for the guy. He was playing too well to retire, and it was plainly obvious for all to see that a) his presence on the Leafs would be detrimental to the team moving forward and b) he wasn't particularly wanted here.
There's been a lot of flack flying around about the guy since the summer. Frustrations have been (slightly) justified, and I made my position clear that Mats can do whatever he wants. It's a shame that the media had to turn this into the fiasco that it did, but this sort of thing is to be expected. I can't imagine what the Gaborik or Kovaklchuk situations would look like today if Mats had signed over the summer, but I guarantee you we'd be just as sick of that talk too.
Mats is a lying dirtbag
First off, Mats and his word. He said last season that he believed in the total journey from camp to playoffs. Of course, he obviously hasn't followed through on that belief. But that's the funny thing about the future, it looks a whole lot different when it becomes the present. Mats was faced with the fact that his Leafs likely wouldn't need him come next season. As a recently married man of advancing age for a hockey player, I'm sure there was also some retirement pressure.
In the end, nobody can really speak to how they will feel about a situation until they have themselves mired in it. How many players retire and then come back? Is Jeremy Roenick to be villifieds for his lack of decision making on his career? Scott Niedermayer? Scott's indecision probably did more damage to the Ducks than Mats could have ever one to this Leafs team. Mats' statement was probably ill-advised to begin with, but perspective changes things, and all adults know that.
He owes us!
Second, the idea that Mats owed the Leafs the right to trade him, or at least an explanation of why he did what he did. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty pissed about the lack of return on a possible asset, but that's JFJ's fault, not Mats'. I'd love to have Higgins, a first, a second, and Greg Pateryn back. Then again, I'd also like Tuuka Rask, a first, second, and fourth, Brad Boyes, Mike Cammalleri, and Roberto Luongo.
Mats chose to invoke a clause that our club had given him to block any potential moves, he completed the length of his contract, and he signed as a free agent at a point in the season that is well within his right to do. Nothing that he's done so far is wrong, or abusive of the system of NHL player contracts. I can't claim that there is somehow still a debt, or "deserving" to be had, I think that's an unrealistic view of the way the world works. I'd probably be a pretty unhappy guy if I thought I deserved anything more from instances where all formal agreements have been fulfilled.
He is a greedy moneybag
First off, he's not making 10mil off this deal, it's pro-rated at 10mil. He'll make roughly 5.5 when the season ends. Second, Mats already has about as much money as I can ever conceive of existing, and I refuse to believe that he actually needed an extra $5 million to throw on his log for Christmas. It does get chilly in mansions, though.
The Canucks are a competitive team, the Sedins are an automatic scoring line, Wellwood and Demitra are both streaky, oft-injured scorers, and adding Sundin will cement the scoring and depth of that team. Defensively and in goal (once Lou's back) the team is already set.
The other "front runners"? New York? They have no cap room, and three natural centers that should be producing close to a point a game. The assertions by the press that the Rags could move enough salary off to other teams, call up rookies to take the place of vets, and basically sabotage their team to add Sundin were ridiculous. This is a team that just ditched an aging superstar in order to focus on their organizational depth, did anyone actually believe they would burn off their depth to add an aging star? No team in the league is taking a salary dump without also taking a pick or prospect, a fact that Brian Burke and Cliff Fletcher are both well aware of.
Chicago? Once again, even less cap space, and a team who doesn't really need to worry about offense regardless. This team is still a couple of seasons away from contending, their captain and top scorers have never sniffed the playoffs. Chicago did well to learn a lesson from Pittsburgh and not blow it's load too early on veteran add-ons.
Thank god he didn't sign with Montreal or Ottawa.
Him signing with other competitive, cap-strapped teams (the rumours of him signing with the Sharks, a team paying Kyle McLaren 2.5 million to play in the AHL, were too funny) were interesting in the discussions they launched, but ultimately unrealistic. We've all seen how hard it is for GMs to make moves in this league, let alone multiple ones. Vancouver actually had the cap room, had a good team, and had players Mats was familiar with.
In the end, I'll never attribute malice to actions that I can understand within a logical framework. Mats didn't want to move at the deadline, he didn't want to retire, and then he had to face the cold reality of a completely open future. When he signed with a team he signed with a good one, and he did so with the only team that made logistical sense from a salary cap perspective. Vancouver loses nothing adding Sundin. Most of the other teams rumoured in the running for him had a lot to lose, and a lot more complications, and so a deal wasn't done.
Adding a conspiracy or ulterior motives to these moves makes the entire situation make less sense, not more, and so I'm willing to side with the simple explanation. Sometimes, that's just how life works.