Beginning of the Sundin era?

HOSEA CHEUNG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:01 PM ET

History will be made tonight at GM Place, or so it seems.

After months and months of Mats Sundin this and Mats Sundin that, Vancouver fans will finally watch the Swede play at home when the Canucks host the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m.

All eyes will be on No. 13 as he takes his first steps in a Canucks uniform at the Garage, all just weeks after signing a pro-rated $5.625-million contract on Dec. 18.

Although he made his official Canucks debut in Edmonton Wednesday, it'll be nothing compared to the atmosphere at home.

Sundin's arrival addresses a major need of the Canucks: A big forward that can produce offensively. But can the 6'5", 231-lb Swede live up to the hype?

"Yeah, I think everybody in Canada has seen him play for so many years that they're going to get the same Mats that they've been seeing," said Kyle Wellwood. "His scoring touch might take a couple games to come but he's going to be good out there."

Good might be too humble of a word. The 37-year-old is the only Swedish player to have reached 1,000 points, and sits 30th on the all-time NHL points scoring list.

He is the all-time point leader of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a nine-time NHL all-star and an Olympic gold medal winner as captain of team Sweden in 2006.

Sundin's home debut marks an improved team that could be Stanley Cup contenders. It also marks the end of a saga that saw speculations become a daily occurrence, uncertainty become a common theme, and patience become a virtue for this team.

Sundin's finally here, and we were just getting used to waiting.

THE SUNDIN SAGA

- JULY 1 - Canucks GM Mike Gillis makes Sundin a massive offer: Two years, $20 million.

- JULY 23 - Agent J.P. Barry says Sundin will make his decision on Aug. 1.

- AUG. 1 - Apparently it was a soft deadline.

- OCT. 24 - Sundin heads to L.A. for a conditioning stint. A week later, he watches the Kings host the Canucks.

- DEC. 6 - Barry says that Sundin's decision will come after the 15th, with five or six teams still interested.

- DEC. 13 - Sundin chats with Rangers' GM Glen Sather.

- DEC. 15 - Rumours of Sundin turning down a Rangers $6M, one-year deal.

- DEC. 18 - He finally makes his decision: Vancouver.

- DEC. 29 - The Swede makes his arrival at YVR, after spending the holidays back home.

- JAN. 5 - Sundin takes part in his first full practice with the Canucks, followed by another the day after.

- JAN. 7 - The long-awaited debut as Sundin takes to the ice in Edmonton, drawing both cheers and jeers.

- JAN. 9 - His first game in front of the home crowd, finally.


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