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Sundin Dispells Team Rumours

Wednesday, 30.04.2003 / 8:07 AM / News
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Sundin Dispells Team Rumours
TURKU, Finland (CP) - Mats Sundin wants Toronto fans to know the Maple Leafs are not a divided hockey club.

Following Sweden's 3-1 loss to Canada on Tuesday night, Sundin's first game at this year's world hockey championship, a tired-looking Leafs captain rejected reports in Toronto his team was torn apart by internal division.

"I think it was blown out of proportion what happened with our team during the season," Sundin said in the mixed zone at Elysee Arena. "Not everybody will be best friends on a hockey team, but it's as long as you respect each other.

"And we have that respect in the dressing room and that's all you can ask for. There was no problem with that."

The team's unity was called into question when Shayne Corson, Darcy Tucker, Travis Green, Jyrki Lumme and Aki Berg were the only players to show up at a Toronto bar for the team's apparent season-ending party after its 6-1 Game 7 loss in Philadelphia.

Leafs winger Jonas Hoglund, also playing for Sweden here, said earlier this week that some players went to Sundin's place that night and that it wasn't a big deal. Every player was free to do what they wanted.

Sundin was asked whether he'll be able to enjoy his summer after all the talk about team dissension in the Toronto media.

"I'm fine," Sundin said. "On all teams you have issues as the season goes on.

"I don't think ours were any more dramatic than any other team in the league. We have a good group of guys in our dressing room and we're all disappointed about the outcome of the season. But we feel confident we have a good group and we're going to come back next year and be better."

In the meantime, Sundin is gunning for gold. Despite its loss to Canada to conclude the preliminary round, Sweden is still considered a tournament favourite.

"I love representing my country," Sundin said. "It's a big honour and I really enjoy that.

"But I also feel it was an early exit from the playoffs and I was obviously prepared to play long in the spring in Toronto. This gives me a chance to at least compete for a championship and that's all what you want in the spring."

Sundin, who underwent nearly 10 hours of dental surgery in Toronto before arriving here Monday, played on a line with Toronto teammates Hoglund and Mikael Renberg. He also played the point on the first power-play unit and logged over 24 minutes of ice time.

"I'm tired," said Sundin. "I've got tired legs and a tired head but other than that I'm fine.

"It's fun to play for the national team and it's fun to get over here and play hockey again. We feel that we have a good team and we think we can do a lot better than we did tonight."
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