Sundin Grateful To Leafs Fans For Wonderful Memories
TORONTO -- Mats Sundin was a hero in Toronto.
Now he's a Hall of Famer in Toronto.
As James Duthie pointed out, Sundin won the admiration of both Leafs Nation and Sweden. He only won a championship with one of them (not the Leafs), but he'll forever be remembered as one of the great Leafs of all time, if not the greatest.
He is the franchise's all-time leading scorer. He's the only Swede to score 500 goals in the NHL.
Sundin opened his speech by using the year 1966 and he reeled off the Hall of Fame class from that year. That same year his dad took his mom on their first date -- a hockey game.
"Five years later, I was born," Sundin said. "Forty-six years after that date, I'm standing here being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame."
He thanked his parents first.
"Without your support, I would not be standing here today," Sundin said.
He talked to his wife, Josephine, and said, "Thank you for giving us a beautiful daughter."
Josephine was teary-eyed.
Sundin mentioned the teammates here with him today, including Gary Roberts and so many others.
"On the plane over here, I was thinking to myself, 'How I can I recognize everyone that has supported me over the years?'" Sundin said. "All the great teammates, great trainers, coaches and management that gave me a chance to compete and play in the National Hockey League.
"I wish I could meet everyone and say thanks for everything, but that's impossible. I dedicate my induction today to everyone that has supported me in my hockey career."
Sundin said he and his two brothers would play street hockey everyday in all seasons, sometimes with their grandma in net and sometimes with their mom.
He talked about then becoming part of a team, and "understanding the importance of caring about the person next to you, understanding it's not all about yourself."
He said playing professional hockey taught him a lot for his life.
"You work on your skills, your character and your passion," Sundin said.
He said the NHL is the elite of the hockey world and players in it are part of an elite group that is only getting better and better. But, he said, it's not only players -- it's trainers, physical therapists, doctors.
"A whole staff," Sundin said.
He talked about some of the trainers he was around and said how fortunate he was to be around them. He said how fortunate he was to have great role models and leaders in his career.
"When I landed in Toronto on Thursday afternoon I came home," Sundin said. "Driving in from the airport reflecting on 13 years in Toronto, living in this city, players I played with. I thought of the fans, the incredible fans that bleed blue and white."
Finally, Sundin said he recalls driving to the Air Canada Centre in May for a playoff game and seeing people walking to their offices in suits, but with Maple Leaf sweaters over top of them.
"Leaf fans, I will never forget what you have given me," he said.