Can't compare Sundin to Big M

SCOTT MORRISON -- For Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

A few random thoughts as the silly season begins, or some would suggest continues, in earnest in the National Hockey League.

- If it should happen that Mats Sundin winds up signing with the Montreal Canadiens, and if this should cause great angst amongst the Leafs Nation seeing their beloved captain go to an arch rival, know this: The comparisons with Frank Mahovlich and what happened years ago are not entirely correct.

Some have suggested that Sundin leaving for Montreal would be no different than Mahovlich leaving in 1968, so get over it.

The get over it part is right, the other is slightly skewed.

In the case of Sundin, he would be leaving as an unrestricted free agent and would have made the choice on his own. If you want to call him a traitor, feel free, though it is also misguided.

In the case of Mahovlich, he was traded in 1968 by the Leafs to Detroit, then traded again in 1971 to the Canadiens, where he won two Stanley Cups.

So while it might not have sat well with Leafs fans at the time seeing the Big M wearing a Habs sweater, fact is he was twice traded to get there and didn't arrange his relocation. Sundin would be different, though it seems New York Rangers are very much an option.

- Whatever the hockey world thinks of the new owners in Tampa, Oren Koules and Len Barrie and different is the word that is often politely used, they have made some pretty decent moves.

Barry Melrose as coach with a strong assistant Rick Tocchet is a good setup. Brian Lawton has been brought in to oversee the hockey operations and is viewed as bright, young mind.

Now come reports that they are looking to sign Vincent Lecavalier to a deal that might be nine years in length and worth somewhere in the $75 million to $80 million US range. If you take the middle ground, that's roughly $8.6 million on average as a cap hit, which is cheaper than he could get on the free market a year from now.

Lecavalier has a year remaining on his existing deal, so at age 28 they are banking on him being very good for another decade. There is a definite risk to that, but they also couldn't risk losing him.

- The whole business of no-trade, no-movement clauses has inspired some interesting reactions when teams have actually asked a player to waive said clauses. It has happened in the case of Sundin and others.

It is true, the player doesn't owe it to the team to agree to move on. But there also is nothing wrong with a team asking if a player might want to move. It's business.

Bottom line is that with a no-trade clause, the player has the right to stay, but how can the player be offended?

The no-trade clause can be interpreted in a couple of ways. One, that the player and team agree to never part ways, but there is no way of predicting the future.

Or, it simply can be seen as a control device. Meaning, if a player decides he has had enough he can waive it, but give a list of teams for which he might want to play. Or, if the team wants to move on, they can ask the player to waive it, but again the player has control of his destination.

He can say no, or dictate where he wants to go. It's about control, not about never, ever being asked to be traded or being offended when it happens. How naive the latter seems.

- Interesting times for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who eventually will have to decide what punishment suspended Anaheim owner Henry Samueli deserves. If you are going to punish players, such as Mark Bell, for conducted unbecoming of the league, then you had better punish owners, as well.

- Just because Samueli is in trouble, doesn't mean that Brian Burke is leaving any time soon. It may happen regardless, but based on the ownership pickle, making that kind of change right now hardly seems wise. If anything, they need Burke and club president Michael Schulman to offer some stability until the owner is dealt with. And if it should pass that the team has to be sold, or is seized by the league, keeping Burke until the end of his contract makes even more sense.

THIS AND THAT

Calgary did well in moving Alex Tanguay (it was probably time) and bringing in Mike Cammalleri and freeing up a couple of million in cap space. Tanguay was also a good pick up for the Habs, who need that depth in scoring and clearly trying to make a run for the title in their 100th anniversary season ... There has been speculation the Oilers might make a big pitch for unrestricted free agent Marion Hossa. Given the good, young talent but the dearth of scoring, he would seem a terrific fit. Question is, would he want to go west and endure the travel, or stay east where life is more comfortable? ... Now that he has been bought out, there will be a team that takes a chance on former Senators goaltender Ray Emery. Everyone thinks their dressing room is the one that is strong enough to do the reclamation work. Wouldn't surprise if that team was Detroit.


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