Leafs rolling out welcome Mats

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

Hockey players, and athletes in general, aren't supposed to look past their next game.

Though the Maple Leafs know the Columbus Blue Jackets will be a formidable opponent tonight at the Air Canada Centre, some can't help but take a peek at Saturday's schedule, which has Mats Sundin returning to Toronto as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

If Sundin's name rings a bell, it might be because he became the Leafs' franchise leading scorer with 987 points during his 13 seasons in blue and white. Just don't look for a Stanley Cup banner in the ACC rafters that has a year after 1967 stamped on it. Sundin couldn't help the Leafs in that regard.

That doesn't diminish memories of Sundin for Matt Stajan.

BIG IMPACT

"He had a big impact in getting my career started," Stajan said.

"I'm lucky I played with him for four years. I learned mostly just by watching the way he handles himself. I have nothing but good things to say about him and it's going to be fun to play against him."

Sundin hasn't exactly caught fire with the Canucks, recording 11 points (six goals and five assists) in 16 games.

It would be foolish to suggest that he won't hear some boos on Saturday night, since many fans think he left the Leafs crippled for the future last February when he refused to waive his no-trade clause.

Instead of getting a nice package in exchange for Sundin, the Leafs got nothing when he left as a free agent.

"There's only one ovation he should get (and that's cheers)," said Leafs backup goalie Curtis Joseph, who has not been a teammate of Sundin since 2002.

"Mats had played with injuries that nobody knew about. He was a true viking."


Photos