Thank Sakic for Sundin's 13

Former Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun)

Former Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun)

LANCE HORNBY and MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:25 AM ET

TORONTO - Mats Sundin wound up wearing No. 13 quite by accident.

“I wore No. 19 my last year in the Swedish Elite League, but I came to Quebec and Joe Sakic had it already. I wore 13 as a junior and I just went back to the old one.”

Thirteen was quite available in Toronto where only two players had ever worn it, Ken Linseman and Ken Yaremchuk. Yaremchuk had 19 points in 47 games during spot duty from 1986-89, but he also wore three other numbers (15, 16 and 34). Linseman played two games in 1991-92.

“I never thought it was unlucky,” Sundin said of 13. “Hard work and you make your own luck.”

TIME TO SMELL THE ROSES

With almost every Leafs scoring record or NHL milestone he set, the humble Sundin would not get overly-excited, insisting: “It will mean more to me when I retire.”

Now he can take a breath and take it all in.

“Once you retire, you get a chance to reflect on your career, where you played and what it meant, especially to yourself,” he said.

“To get a chance to represent the Leafs for so many years and to play in a city such as this ... you realize (it’s special) the first time you watch a game from the stands and feel the atmosphere. You realize what the team and the history of the franchise means to the city.

“Once you start playing, you just start worrying about the next game, the next practice. Now you look at it and it means so much to be a part of this. It’s tough to describe in words. It’s different than playing in Tampa or in Florida.”

He recalled the events of February 1999, the closing of Maple Leaf Gardens, when he took a ceremonial flag from original Leafs captain Red Horner, and a few days later, when a motorcade took the Leafs, their alumni and some Gardens keepsakes from Carlton St. and down Bay to the Air Canada Centre.

“We were only moving from one arena to another, but that day it was like a Stanley Cup parade,” he said. “It’s tough to explain to people in Sweden or anywhere else in the hockey world. You have to come here to experience it.”

CAREER CHANGE

Ex-Leaf Boyd Devereaux certainly is keeping busy since retiring in 2009.

In 2011, he appeared in Battle of the Blades and showcased his strong skating skills.

Now he has moved on to run a movie/TV/video/film production company called Walking Sound Productions.

Saturday, Devereaux was at the Air Canada Centre to do a behind-the-scenes piece with Sundin.

“It’s fun,” Devereaux said. “We’re still learning a lot but it’s been very enjoyable. Mats has been great in allowing us access for this piece.”

LOOSE LEAFS

Get ready for big hype about how much the Western road trip means to the Leafs, but prepare to be disappointed. Including two losses in Winnipeg this season, Leafs are 3-11 in western Canada since the lockout. Leafs have nine players on the roster who have roots in the West ... Nikolai Kulemin’s wife gave birth to their second child, Daniella, on Friday night. Kulemin made it back in the lineup for Saturday’s games ... As a tribute to Sundin, all the Leafs wore No. 13 jerseys during the pre-game skate. Not only was it a nice touch, it made it twice as hard for the Canadiens coaches to tell the Leafs apart and figure out any scratches ... Sundin had a catered party for special guests on Friday, including former teammates such as the Canadiens’ Tomas Kaberle and Hal Gill. “It was really well organized and like Mats, he didn’t miss a beat,” Gill said.


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