Mats Sundin to be honoured by Leafs on Saturday
Published Friday, February 10, 2012 10:53PM EST
A sturdy Swede loved, lauded and occasionally loathed by Toronto hockey fans will be honoured at the Air Canada Centre this weekend when the jersey number worn by Mats Sundin is raised to the rafters.
Sundin will have his No. 13 honoured at the Toronto Maple Leafs' home game against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
Sundin, who retired in 2009 after playing for the Vancouver Canucks for one season, spent the majority of his 18-season career wearing Leafs colours.
Sundin is the franchise's all-time leader in goals scored with 420 and points with 987, playing 981 games for the Leafs.
Sundin will be the 18th player to have his number raised to the rafter by the Toronto Maple Leafs, joining hockey greats Borje Salming, Darryl Sittler and Bill Barilko.
Only Barilko's No. 5 and Ace Bailey's No. 6 are officially retired by the team, while the remaining numbers are still free to be worn by current players.
Still, no one has worn Sundin's No. 13 since he left the Leafs following the 2007-08 season.
"Once you retire you get a chance to reflect more on your career, where you've played and what it meant to yourself," Sundin said in October.
"To get a chance to represent the Leafs for all the years that I did and play in a city like this, it's a huge honour."
Sundin was originally drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1989 and was traded to the Leafs in 1994 for local favourite Wendel Clark.
He spent the remainder of his career in Toronto until 2007, when his contract expired and he signed with Vancouver for one more season.
His departure came with sweet and sour undertones, after Sundin refused to waive a no-trade clause in his final year with the team, stating he wanted to retire as a Leaf – an endearing gesture that also cost the team a chance to build for the future.
Sundin also said that he did not believe in being a "rental player" and that if he were to win a Stanley Cup he wanted to be a part of the team for the entire season.
Sundin won an Olympic gold medal with Sweden in 2006 but was never able to stamp his name on the Stanley Cup.
On Friday, Sundin presented the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine with a $330,000 donation to help set up a research fellowship in conjunction with the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.
His gift will help fund the study of maternal and early childhood health.