Mats Sundin is a product of the sport. In 1966, his parents went to a hockey game for their first date.
“Five years later, I was born,” Sundin said, courtesy of the NHL.com. “Forty-six years after that date, I’m standing here being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.”
Sundin started his career playing with fellow 2012 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Joe Sakic on the Quebec Nordiques, and he retired after spending some time with the next generation of Swedish greats in Daniel and Henrik Sedin as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. However, most will remember Mats Sundin for his tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“When I landed in Toronto on Thursday afternoon I came home,” Sundin said. “Driving in from the airport reflecting on 13 years in Toronto, living in this city, players I played with. I thought of the fans, the incredible fans that bleed blue and white.”
Maple Leafs fans are not know for their exclusively kind treatment of hockey players and Sundin did not entirely avoid controversy during his tenure in Toronto, especially towards the end of his career. Still, as TSN’s James Duthie pointed out, Sundin managed to win the admiration of a generation of Leafs fans.
“Leaf fans, I will never forget what you have given me,” Sundin said.