Clark: Sundin always a Leaf

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

KETTLEBY, Ont. -- Wendel Clark chose his words carefully yesterday when he was asked about the fate of Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin, who hinted this week that he may not be back in the blue and white next season.

But Clark, who was traded by the Leafs in 1994 to get Sundin from the Quebec Nordiques, said it definitely looks like the big Swede's 14-year career as a Leaf may be over.

"If in his heart he doesn't want to be (in Toronto) and play here, then I think, like any player, he might want to move on," Clark said yesterday while taking part in the national PACE Polo for Heart campaign at the Gormley Polo Centre. "Your heart has to be (in Toronto)."

Clark, a 41-year-old native of Kelvington, Sask., said that being a Leafs captain is a position that has a lot of pressures attached to it and that not all players are suited for the job.

But he said he is not in a position to be offering Sundin advice of what his next career move should be.

"Mats has a fine life. I'm certainly not going to be telling him anything," Clark said. "He's still playing. Mats was a great player and is a great player. It has to be up to him to decide what he wants to do."

Clark admitted, however, that if Sundin has second thoughts about finishing his career in Toronto, maybe it's time for a change.

"You can't make a player play where he doesn't want to," Clark said. "But that doesn't take away from what Mats has accomplished in Toronto. He still holds most of the scoring records for the team and he has been a great leader here.

"No matter what happens he always will be a Leaf, whether he retires here or goes on to some other team."

Clark also said yesterday that there may not be as much urgency in selecting a new general manager for the club as it seems from the outside, especially with Cliff Fletcher now making the hockey decisions as interim GM.

"He knows the game and he has a lot of good young guys around him," Clark said. "I think he's doing the job right now. I only know what I read in the papers."

However, as Clark was climbing on a polo pony as part of the program founded by Colonel Michael Sifton to raise funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, he did say the Leafs GM job may be bigger than any one person.

"It's not just one guy, it has to be a group of guys, whether they're ex-players or number crunchers," he said.

Clark said, though, that he thought former players should be an integral part of the mix.

"A player knows what players need and players know more about the game as it's being played right now," he said.

Tickets for the June 20-22 Polo for Heart are $15 for adults, with children under 12 admitted free and are available at the gate or at www.poloforheart.org.


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