Mats fine with star snub

LANCE HORNBY

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

Not having the Leafs best player picked for the NHL all-star game a second year in a row will tick a few Torontonians off, but the man who was overlooked took it in stride yesterday.

Mats Sundin says he is just as glad not to be going to Atlanta in two weeks, given what's going on with the sagging team right now. Sundin, with 48 points in 44 games in one of the best first halves of his career, was overlooked for teammate Tomas Kaberle a second straight season.

The last-place Tampa Bay Lightning, who had Vincent Lecavalier voted to the starting lineup by the fans, also had Martin St. Louis added by the league's hockey operations department.

"I'd rather not go," Sundin said flatly yesterday. "At my age (37 next month), I'd rather take the time off and get ready for the second half of the season. It's a big honour to be picked (the last of his nine straight selections was in 2004), but there's a lot going on with our team right now."

Kaberle is going for a second straight year, blanked in his first appearance in Dallas last year. He has 27 points in 44 games, but has hit a wall without regular partner Bryan McCabe.

LOST IN LOS ANGELES

The Leafs were a sullen bunch yesterday as they headed to the airport, no doubt worrying about their own futures should the team fall completely out of the playoff race and John Ferguson be fired as general manager.

"It's not over," Sundin declared. "We've been almost 10 games under .500 before. As a group, we have to play with some urgency. If we don't there will be changes here for sure."

SHARK FEEDING TIME

The Sharks will be a handful at home for the Leafs tonight, even though they're barely .500 at home and one of the NHL's best road teams at 16-3-2.

"There's no rhyme or reason for it," forward Joe Thornton said. "We're playing lights out on the road. It's crazy."

They are 6-2-2 overall in the past 10 and goalie Evgeni Nabokov has been a rock, starting every game. Nabokov is indebted to the late John Ferguson Sr., the scout who insisted the Sharks bring him from Russia to North America back in 1997.


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