Maple Leafs Lose To Buffalo, and Reports of a Sundin-to-Montreal Trade

Posted Mar 16, 2008 by Nawest Vazquez
Painful loss last night by the Maple Leafs in more ways than one. It took a hell of a lot longer than I thought, but Nik Antropov has finally been injured. A knee injury to boot. His was a run that was good while it lasted. I hope you enjoyed it.
Leafs Defenseman Bryan McCabe wonders where it all went wrong. Picture courtesy of Yahoo! Sports
Leafs Defenseman Bryan McCabe wonders where it all went wrong. Picture courtesy of Yahoo! Sports
Already missing Sundin from the lineup, once Niky went down the Leafs didn't have much of a prayer. A win minus the big Swede and the lanky Kazakh, who have 58 goals and 129 points between the two of them, was too tall an order for the remaining Maple Leafs.
The Buffalo Sabres, also fighting for their playoff lives, came out hungrier and harder and were full marks for a 6-2 win. They did score some hella cheap goals, though, so I can't blame Vesa back there (not that I ever would).
Toskala does, however, look a bit tired. Can't blame him for that, either. Vesa has started 57 games for the Leafs this season, including something like the last 22 or 23 in a row. His previous career-high in starts? Thirty-three, established last year with San Jose. His workload has increased tremendously as he's now a full-fledged number one goalie in the NHL. This is new territory for the Leafs backstop. He's got to be feeling a bit worn down. It's a shame the Leafs don't have a half-decent backup goalie that could give him a rest here and there. Stupid Raycrap.
Enough about last night. The Leafs are still mathematically alive. The Flyers got their asses handed to them today by the Penguins so it's still Philly we're chasing. Six points out, with nine games to go. Play time's over. The Leafs have to run the table from here on out. Next up are the Islanders on Tuesday in Long Island, likely without Sundin and Antropov. Possibly even Colaiacovo. Start praying.
On to one juicy rumour about our beloved Captain. Full disclosure: the source is Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. The same Steve Simmons who said last summer that Sundin needed potentially career-ending hip surgery. It's funny that after that story was proven to be false, Sundin has gone out and, with very little skill around him, has had his best season in, oh, about 10 years. It's also comedic that Simmons still has his job.
Anyways, I'll leave the Simmons bashing to CoxBloc. They're much better at it than me. Here's what the douche bag had to say: the Montreal Canadiens, for the services of the great leader of men known as Mats Sundin, offered Toronto winger Christopher Higgins and their first, second and third-round draft picks. Toronto agreed, but Sundin refused to go.
My initial reaction: "Wow."
If it's true, that's a mighty decent offer. Higgins is a 20-goal scorer who has a bright future in front of him. And three draft picks, including a first-rounder, are exactly what the Leafs need going forward.
My second reaction: "Would it have been so bad for Mats to have gone to Montreal for a few months?"
I know. It's a terrible thought. A selfish thought. I'm so sorry, Mats.
My third reaction: "The Leafs trading their Captain, Mats freakin' Sundin, to the Canadiens!? How weird would that have been?"
Imagine, eh? Sundin in a Montreal uniform and going to the playoffs. It would have been something else. Again, because it's Simmons, I'm loathe to believe it. We must not give him the benefit of the doubt. He works for the Sun, after all.
In the end, Sundin had every right to use his no-trade clause, and he did. And like I wrote about before, I can't be, and am not, mad at him about it. Since his refusal to leave Toronto, Sundin has been on an absolute tear - 18 points in 9 games - in trying to single-handedly take the Leafs to the playoffs.
Bottom line? Sundin's a Toronto Maple Leaf. Not a Montreal Canadien. And I love him for that. Because it's the truth. He's no Hab.
One thing's for certain, though: had Sundin agreed to be traded to Montreal, and Kaberle to Philly for Jeff Carter and a first-round pick, winning the Steve Stamkos sweepstakes would have been a realisitic goal. The Leafs, as they proved last night, are pretty much nothing without #13 in the lineup.
My final reaction about Sundin in the bleu, blanc et rouge, playing in the always sold-out and loud-as-hell Bell Centre in Montreal during the playoffs: it might have been pretty cool. No, you sickos, not for Montreal and their fans.
For Mats. As the sun begins to set on what has been a marvellous career, he deserves every opportunity to play for hockey's greatest prize.
(PS: keep the faith)