Leafs' Sundin pumped

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

When training camp opens, the captain of the Maple Leafs might have to wear one of those lapel stickers that says, "HELLO, My Name Is Mats."

There have been so many big changes to the Toronto roster the past two weeks, Sundin's new look will take some by surprise after a year-long lockout.

"I really feel on top of the world right now," Sundin told Sweden's Sport Bladet yesterday. "I needed a break from hockey."

Sundin used the time to work hard on his physique, trying to keep ahead of Father Time now that he's 34. He's trim and well tanned from indulging in his second love, golf, and has cut his hair even shorter, giving him a more intimidating Mark Messier look.

He did not spend the winter with his club team Djurgarden or join the Swedish nationals at the world championships, no doubt costing him fans at home, but Toronto could be the beneficiary in the next 82 games.

"This was a correct decision and I don't regret not playing," Sundin said. "This was my first winter without hockey since I was six or seven years old. I never had a long break, and when this chance to recuperate (came), I just needed to take advantage of it and take care of my body.

"I'm hungry, feeling fresh and I think I even got mentally stronger."

No sooner was the shocking news about losing Gary Roberts, Joe Nieuwendyk and likely Alex Mogilny relayed to him in Sweden, than he heard about the coming of Jeff O'Neill, Jason Allison and surely the biggest shocker, Eric Lindros.

"I'm positive Lindros will be a great addition," Sundin said. "Everyone knows that when he is in form, he is a world-class player. For him, it's all about being healthy and off the injured reserve list."

Speculation on whether the two towering centres would play on the same line began on the day of the Lindros signing. Lindros said that would be fine, but coach Pat Quinn said on Friday that his first inclination is to play Sundin, Lindros and Allison one, two, three in the middle and try and find ice time for all.

"(Playing with Lindros) would be awesome, it would really create open ice, but at this stage no line formations are set," said Sundin. "I am a strong believer in Allison. And after that we (just signed) Staffan Kronwall, Alexander Steen and (Mikael) Tellqvist could be back, too. I'm looking forward to have a few Swedish teammates."

One development Sundin didn't like was Forsberg choosing to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers.

"I really didn't like that he ended up there," Sundin said. "Flyers are one of our biggest rivals and Forsberg will be a big contributor for them. It will make it harder for us, but I guess it will be some fun to play him more often."

Sundin is back on the ice now, training hard with Djurgarden, eyeing the start of Leafs' training camp in about four weeks.

"I started on ice on Aug. 1 and it felt great," he said. "I'm playing the best hockey of my life."


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