Sports

The amazing Sundini 0

BOB MACKIN, 24 HOURS

A dispatch from the future:

JUNE 15, 2009: The Mats Sundin sweepstakes will end tonight.

The 38-year-old Swede will finally choose a team, but you won't see him on ice.

The professional poker player and former Toronto Maple Leafs' captain announced in a statement via agent J.P. Barry that he would declare his loyalty to the New York Rangers or San Jose Sharks, depending on which team is leading after two periods in tonight's seventh and deciding game of the Stanley Cup finals.

Should the teams be tied, Sundin will choose the team that scores the go-ahead goal.

"I am happy to make such a decision on this important date in hockey history," according to a statement from Sundin, who will watch the game via satellite at O'Learys Bar and Restaurant in Stockholm. "I am waiting the extra time so as to insure that my decision is in the best interest of the team I ultimately choose."

When he is ready, Sundin will don either a Rangers or Sharks' jersey and do his first interview and photo shoot exclusively for the Swedish sports daily Sportbladet.

* * * * *

Why doesn't Vancouver Canucks' general manager Mike Gillis revoke the $10 million offer?

Sundin isn't hurting for dollars or kroners. He walked away from hockey to become a poker pitchman. Flying cards and chips are not going to do the same damage as flying sticks, pucks and skates. The NHL relies on gambling advertising revenue, though Sundin is skating in a legal grey area by promoting a company not approved by governments on either side of the 49th parallel.

The only thing left for Sundin in hockey is a Stanley Cup ring and he's not going to get that here in 2009. He would be here already, cashing big cheques if hockey and money were the two most important things in his life.

By staying in the hunt, Gillis is only causing the Rangers to spend more than budgeted. That means Sundin's agent Barry still stands to receive a substantial commission. Could Gillis be trying to curry favour with a key ex-competitor so that he can play the "future considerations" card when they inevitably meet to negotiate another player's contract?

"J.P., remember how I helped you buy more real estate because of the Sundin deal? Now, can you kindly knock a few hundred thousand dollars off X-player's contract so we can finish the deal and resume our round of golf?"

In the new NHL, sport takes a back seat to business.


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