September 10, 2008
Welcome Mats?Senators quietly making calls
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media
Mats Sundin in a Senators uniform? It may never happen, but it won't be for lack of trying on Ottawa's part.
While Sundin hasn't decided whether he's going to return to the NHL, two league sources told Sun Media yesterday that Senators GM Bryan Murray has made at least three calls expressing his club's interest in the centre, an unrestricted free agent. While it might be difficult to picture Sundin switching sides in the Battle of Ontario, the Senators did make a pitch for him at the trade deadline last February. Sundin stayed with the Maple Leafs, refusing to waive his "no movement" clause.
The Senators haven't been as aggressive in their approach to chasing the 37-year-old centre as the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens or New York Rangers, but sources say Murray has told Sundin's representatives the club would find a way to make it work if he's interested.
The Senators, who have already committed about $52 million of the $56.7-million salary cap for next season, would have to make another move to free up space to add Sundin.
J.P. Barry, Sundin's agent, said he didn't want to speculate on teams who have shown interest because that would cause a flood of phone calls to his office from media across the hockey world.
"I'm not going to confirm or deny that (the Senators) are among the teams interested," Barry, co-managing director of CAA Sports, told Sun Media. "I'm not going to get into the teams that are interested because right now it doesn't make any difference until Mats makes a decision on whether he's going to play or not. If Mats decides that he's going to play, then we'll follow up with the teams that have shown an interest."
Sundin returned to Toronto to play in a charity hockey game last Friday. He, Barry and Stockholm-based agent Claus Elefalk met with Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher.
On his way back to Sweden on the weekend, Sundin stopped in Montreal for a discussion with Habs GM Bob Gainey. The Canucks offered a two-year, $20-million deal to Sundin's camp on July 1 and that deal is still on the table.
The talk among league executives is Senators owner Eugene Melnyk would welcome Sundin because his presence in Ottawa would be a major blow to Leaf Nation.
But don't be surprised if Sundin doesn't make a decision until Christmas.