Athletes Are Too Loyal Nowadays, Dag Blastit!

Leafs Fan

I viewed Mats Sundin’s decision not to waive his no-trade clause as the kind of difficult but noble (if a bit irrational) act of franchise allegiance that sportswriters are constantly claiming doesn’t exist in pro sports anymore. Even though it’s a case of sentimentality over short-term financial sense (and possibly a draft pick or two), surely columnists are going to see some merit in Sundin’s decision to stick it out with a franchise that’s been extremely loyal to him for the past decade, right?

Nope. If you’re ESPN’s NHL Columnist / Arbiter of Vague Anger Scott Burnside, you’re going to be mad about Sundin’s decision. VAGUELY mad. Let’s take a firejoemorgan-style peek at this article and see if we can figure out exactly who’s at fault here (hint – the answer is everyone):

Well, it looks like everyone is going to get what they want in Toronto, after all.

Cool. Sounds like a good move then?

Captain Mats Sundin decided not to waive his no-trade clause and will stay where he wants — with a bad, underachieving Toronto Maple Leafs team that has no chance of making the playoffs.

How selfish of him! Everyone knows Sundin is an S&Mer to the core and actually takes pleasure in missing the playoffs, the NHLer’s equivalent of auto-erotic asphyxiation.

If Sundin waives his no-trade clause, ESPN’s sports-cliche macros automatically change the column title to “Sundin bails on Leafs, not that there’s any loyalty in sports these days,” complete with paragraphs about Ernie Banks sticking with the Cubs and Teddy Ballgame and the Sox and etc. etc. money, free agency, Swedish Judas.

Oh, I know; none of this is Sundin’s fault. He wasn’t the one who gave himself a no-trade clause. He’s blameless, unless you count his failures to lead the team where any captain wants to lead his team — forward.

The Leafs finished dead last in their division in ’96-’97 and again in ’97-’98, Sundin’s first full season as captain, then made the playoffs the next six seasons, losing in the first round only once and reaching the Eastern Finals twice. However, the only thing that counts as leading a team “forward” is jumping from last place straight to a Cup victory — every other action technically counts as one of those weird triple compass directions. In this case, East by Southeast.

Never mind that he’s a multimillionaire who never has taken his team to the Stanley Cup finals.

What a dick — too busy hoarding his MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to learn how to win. Could the same be said about Joe Thornton, Markus Naslund, Marian Hossa, Marty Turco, Zdeno Chara, Roberto Luongo, or Saku Koivu? Psh. Yeah right, could it?? Wait, what point was I making? Oh yeah — that selfish, asscock Sundin is rolling around in his personal moneybin and throwing diamonds in the air and pretending the sperm of the hockey Gods is raining back down upon him. He should be playing for 30 grand and winning the only Cup that matters: The Stanley one. Not the MONEY one. I can’t believe he thinks there’s such a thing as a money cup, someone should tell him there isn’t.

We had to get out a whole box of hankies after reading and listening to all of the folks who felt bad Sundin was put in such an awful predicament.

Journalism Tip: You can sarcastically mention a ‘box of hankies’ in order to portray any legitimate conundrum as though someone’s just acting really childishly. Watch:

We had to get out a whole box of itty bitty widdle hankies to wipe our poor nosies for millionaire Dany Heatley, who wanted to leave Atlanta after losing a teammate in an awful car wreck. Boo hoo!

Pretty nifty, eh?

Leafs interim general manager Cliff Fletcher should strip Sundin of his captaincy and make it clear the veteran forward won’t be re-signed this summer. Only in Toronto, where reality is, like the Stanley Cup, an infrequent visitor, is such a suggestion met with such horror from media and fans alike.

Only in Toronto, the single most demanding city in which any human could ever hope to play professional hockey, would the fans frown upon publicly demeaning the team’s franchise player 10 years running because he didn’t want to be rented out to the Canucks or the Sharks. What the Leafs truly need to jump-start their turnaround is to cause a huge distraction for the last two months of a lost season by inviting constant interrogation from a ruthless local media over a meaningless symbolic gesture.

Also, the Cup has infrequently visited Toronto thirteen times, second most of any NHL franchise. I realize they haven’t won one in 40 years, but if Burnside wants to play Vagueanger, then I get to play Statfluffer.

TO RECAP: Mats Sundin and the fans of Toronto are both to blame for not wanting to sever the captain’s ties with the #1 hockey city in North America in exchange for Marcel Goc and a second round pick or something. If the general manager doesn’t remove the letter C from Sundin’s jersey, he is also to blame. Waahhh. Hankies.

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