Mats Sundin can picture the day that he trades in his skates and sweater for a pair of track pants and a whistle.
Or, perhaps, for a Blackberry with the NHL's general managers on speed dial.
The Maple Leafs captain was in a reflective mood yesterday on the eve of his 37th birthday, and though he claimed he still has not decided when he will retire, he envisions a future in hockey once he steps off the ice for the final time.
"I think it is going to be tough to get away from the game completely," the big Swede said. "Hockey is always going to be a big part of my life. I hope I would do something else for awhile anyway and then come back to the game, but we will see."
That Sundin would like to remain a factor in the game -- perhaps in the NHL, maybe back home in Sweden (where he is revered) as a guiding force with the national team -- might come as a surprise. He likes nothing more than to go underground once the season ends, usually to his cottage with his fishing rod in hand, and not resurface in Toronto until training camp begins. Having said that, Sundin must get a bit of a bug when he sees other big-name players such as Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille enjoying their post-playing careers in front offices.
Sundin reiterated that any look ahead is nothing more than conjecture. His agent, J.P. Barry, made it clear again this week that Sundin has no interest of being traded.
"Either of those things (coaching or managing) I am not thinking about right now," Sundin said. "I'm a player and hopefully I can be that for a while. We'll see what happens."
Sundin stressed that whether he plays past this season is a decision that he has not made.
"I have not even thought about it," Sundin said. "I know I told you guys but I will say it again. Last summer I made a decision that I am really going to play it by year, for my sake and for my team's sake. I don't want to lock myself up or lock a team up. I think it's a fair deal when you are at my age just to listen to your body and your mental state -- make decisions once the season is over."