Lucky No. 13


Mats Sundin skated for the first time with his new teammates yesterday at General Motors Place.

The Vancouver Canucks' $5-million Swedish rental centre offered no hint about the date for his NHL comeback. He will not travel with the club on its Jan. 1-2 road trip to Nashville and Atlanta.

"It's going to be a decision for the coaches to see when I'm at that point with the intensity it takes," Sundin, 37, told a noon news conference. "I haven't talked about any date with the coaches."

Sundin said he doesn't underestimate the challenge of resuming his career in mid-season and compared himself to a player just beginning training camp.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to continue playing for sure [after last season]," he said. "The time I had this summer and this fall has really helped me mentally to get the hunger back for playing and competing."

Sundin became a pitchman for grey-market online gambling company PokerStars in September. He agreed Dec. 18 to join the Canucks for the remainder of the season and arrived in Vancouver on Monday. The 17-season NHL veteran - who spent the last 13 as a Toronto Maple Leaf - sported facial hair and a No. 13 helmet at practice. Designated goon Mike Brown gave up his No. 13 to Sundin after his signing was announced.

"I told him I can play with 15," Sundin said. "I wouldn't have minded playing with a different number, but I owe him something for sure."