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Sundin: Loyalty to Toronto “My strength and maybe my weakness”

Feb 10, 2012, 5:38 PM EDT

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Mats Sundin

Mats Sundin always said he loved playing in Toronto.

Looking back, maybe he loved it too much.

Prior to having his No. 13 honored on Saturday, the all-time leading scorer in Maple Leafs history addressed the criticisms he faced at the tail end of his career, when he refused to waive his no-trade clause for what many thought would be a key part of Toronto’s rebuilding process.

“My strength and maybe my weakness is that I’m a loyal guy,” Sundin said Friday. “I felt that you spend so much time in an organization and in Toronto, I always saw myself winning the Stanley Cup in Toronto.

“I wanted to do that and also [realized] it would never feel the same doing it somewhere else.”

Sundin did try it somewhere else — suiting up for 41 games for Vancouver in 2008-09 — but didn’t look or feel comfortable playing with anything other than a maple leaf on his chest.

“When you’re 22 or 23, it’s about winning the championship,” he said. “As you grow older you enjoy the journey, the travel and the grind of getting together a group of guys in the fall and build up to a goal in the spring. (That) was the thing that was great, the long-term commitment.”

Sundin will join the likes of Doug Gilmour (No. 93), Wendel Clark (No. 17) and fellow Swede Borje Salming (No. 21) as Leafs that have had their numbers honored by the club.

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