Sundin sizzles in blowout

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:54 AM ET

Mats Sundin had trouble remembering his first point as a Leaf, only that he had a lot more hair, Doug Gilmour was around and he was getting grief for a bubble helmet.

A lot of water has gone under the Zamboni since Jan. 20, 1995 when he debuted as a Leaf with an assist against the L.A. Kings, following it up with a goal on Arturs Irbe of the San Jose Sharks the next night. Last evening, with the ACC chanting his name, Sundin passed Darryl Sittler in franchise points with a goal for No. 917, coming in his 912th game as a Leaf.

"One of the referees said to me (during the celebration), 'you never know what will happen if you hang around somewhere long enough,' " Sundin said with a laugh.

After being named the first, second and third star of the 8-1 win over the Islanders, he stayed on the ice for a interview, thanked the crowd for unwavering support during a 40-year Cup drought and urged them to hang in.

He has a shot at the last of the club's big offensive records, countryman Borje Salming's 620 assists, of which he needs 94 to pass.

Sundin was given the game puck and kept the stick from last night, but didn't want to talk about building a den for his bulging chest of memories.

"Right now, I feel like I'm almost in the middle of my career," Sundin said.

He's off to an astounding start, with eight points in Toronto's first five games. That's three shy of the club record held jointly by John Anderson (10 points in eight games in 1982), Lanny McDonald (10 in eight in '76) and Frank Mahovlich (nine in 10 in '61).

NO EGO

Coach Paul Maurice certainly hopes he stays for the balance of his time behind the Leafs bench.

"He has got no ego, which makes him the perfect role model," Maurice said, comparing him to his other favourite player, Carolina Hurricane Ron Francis. "I've never had Ron or Mats come into my office and say 'I'm too skilled to play (defence)'. Ronny back-checked all the time, Mats blocks shots and does everything asked of him."


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