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Fanspeak: Mats Sundin voted greatest Maple Leaf in franchise history

Aug 25, 2014, 7:35 PM EDT

Mats Sundin

This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Toronto Maple Leafs

1. Mats Sundin (398)

2. Dougie Gilmour (177)

3. Darryl Sittler (152)

4. Dave Keon (99)

5. Johnny Bower (68)

6. Tim Horton (57)

7. Borje Salming (47)

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a history as old as the NHL itself, but in this vote the Leafs’ more recent stars like Sundin and Gilmour edged out some of the classic fan favorites like Sittler. That’s not terribly surprising as for many Leafs fans, Sundin is the man they grew up rooting for.

Sundin became the team captain in 1997 and held that position until his departure following the 2007-08 campaign. For much of his tenure, Toronto was a competitive team and made it to the conference finals twice. The Maple Leafs declined as soon as the salary cap kicked in, but Sundin wasn’t dragged down as well. In fact, he recorded at least 72 points in each of his last 12 campaigns with Toronto.

It was that level of consistency that allowed him to claim the top spot in the Leafs’ all-time goals list (420 to Sittler’s 389) and points list (987 to Sittler’s 916).

Including his start with the Quebec Nordiques and his brief tenure with the Vancouver Canucks at the end of his career, Sundin finished with 564 goals and 1,349 points in 1,346 games. He remains the all-time Swedish scoring leader and the only Swede to ever surpass the 500-goal milestone.

Although he was never able to end the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup drought, Sundin won a gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics and won the World Championship with Sweden an additional three times. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

  1. luz56 - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    Again voting should represent decades not greatest as most fans never saw Sittler Keon Bower Salming etc

    • imleftcoast - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:30 PM

      I like Sundin, but better than Sittler is ridiculous.

  2. rainyday56 - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    Leafs won 11 cups. Not one of the top 3 played on those cup winning teams. Only 1 of the 3 ( Gilmour ) drank from the cup at all. This list is as ridiculous as that oiler fan’s list that included Taylor Hall as an all time forward.

    • dueman - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:50 PM

      Yes, it’s absolutely ridiculous that the all time leading goal scorer, and leading point getter for the Toronto Maple Leafs, also happens to end up being the player with the most fan votes for greatest player of all time for the Leafs. I mean, how absurd! Wow….

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 26, 2014 at 2:50 PM

      The Leafs franchise has won the Stanley Cup 13 times. Their victories under different ownership and prior to being called the Leafs, in 1918 and 1922, count as much as the more recent 11. Same franchise.

  3. Wineshard - Aug 25, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    So much for an historic franchise. Even Canucks fans looked a little deeper than this. Geez.

    • elrock7 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:57 PM

      geez you do wine hard. It was a twitter, facebook vote! A bunch of kids, who cares?

      • imleftcoast - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:34 PM

        whine

    • kaptaanamerica - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:43 AM

      All the people who’ve seen the leafs win a cup are almost dead if not already so no surprise they didn’t vote.

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:45 PM

        I think you’re thinking of your Vancouver fans who saw Vancouver’s last cup win. You know your last cup is old when sliced bread was introduced AFTER it.

      • kaptaanamerica - Aug 26, 2014 at 8:39 PM

        interesting, at least Canucks fans nominated someone who took the team to a Cup final, Leafs fans couldn’t even do that I suppose. Did leafs even get to the conference finals under Sundin… who by the way chose to retire a Canuck. so your greatest player ever was also a Canuck.

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 27, 2014 at 2:05 AM

        It takes a team to win, not just one player.

        And since when was Bure the team leader? He was a great goal scorer, but Linden and McLean were the guys who lead by example. Funny seeing Messier at #4 though. I’ve never met a Canuck fan that doesn’t complain about his stint in Vancouver. Probably residual feelings since he captained the team beat Vancouver in 94. Riots #1.

        Interesting thing is how much you care about these votes. It’s a bunch of people from twitter and facebook, aka kids. There’s several reasons Sundin could be one of the #1.

        “Did leafs even get to the conference finals under Sundin”
        Twice. But you knew that. You follow the Leafs closer than your own Canucks. You couldn’t even be bothered to post on the Canucks’ Fanspeak page. I’m surprised you read it.

  4. abe01225 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    How about Clark? Guy was a warrior.

    • imleftcoast - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      1994 was a pretty good year . . . for the Canucks. Enjoy those Clark memories Leafs fans.

      • jason9696 - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:31 PM

        I’m sure you enjoyed the riots in Vancouver after game #7 in ’94. And in 2011 as well.

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        94 was a good year. Rangers proved how mentally fragile Canucks fans are. Bruin re-confirmed it a few years ago. You’d think “The city of glass” would have figured out they need “Plexi-glass” by now.

  5. luz56 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    Forgot about Frank Mahovlich too

  6. quinner17 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    Brutal

  7. luz56 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    The Maples Leafs declined when the salary cap kicked in????? Really?? I guess you don’t know your history… They have been brutal for all but a dozen years since 1967

    • elrock7 - Aug 25, 2014 at 9:01 PM

      Yet you care enough to post here, a stupid one at that. Must be a habs fan.

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:53 PM

      It’s really too complicated for you to figure out? You should check your own history.

      1992 to 2004, 12 seasons, 4 conference finals, missed the playoffs twice
      2004/05 the lockout when they added the salary cap
      2005 to today, 9 season, made the playoffs once.

      Not that hard to see how they declined. It shouldn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure it out.

  8. nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    Wow, while all 7 were great players, my ballot would have been topped by Frank Mahovlich.
    And honorable mention to Charlie Conacher, Turk Broda, King Clancy, Syl Apps, Ted Kennedy, Red Kelly and Hap Day.

  9. luz56 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    Did you notice it also said Montreal Canadians…

    • dueman - Aug 25, 2014 at 11:44 PM

      Sorry guy, I hit report comment by accident, instead of reply. I just wanted to point out that out of all the arguing on this page that the fact that those Leaf greats are listed as Montreal players is the most brutal part of this whole blog…

  10. nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Also, as of 8:43, the header for the list says Montreal Canadiens. Bleu blanc et rouge, non! Blue and white, yes!

  11. bullwinkle88 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    This poll is ridiculous. Was there anyone over the age of 30 polled?

    Mahovolich, Keon, Sittler – these guys are legendary.

  12. gbatap - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    Darryl Sittler says ‘hi’.

    Just want until Saku Koivu is voted best Has.

    SMDH

  13. zinger99 - Aug 25, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    Sundin? I don’t think so. What a joke.

  14. tn16 - Aug 25, 2014 at 9:19 PM

    Tim Horton is not only the greatest maple leaf of all is also the greatest Canadian of all time

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:52 PM

      I must reluctantly down-thumb. I knew Mr Horton, and I doubt he’d agree with either of your claims for him. Among the Leafs’ greatest d-men for sure, and a terrific entrepreneur.

  15. hieronymous27 - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Did Mats Sundin ever win an award in the NHL? He never won a Cup. How about a scoring title? A Most Valuable Player? Best Defensive Forward? So how does this guy merit this kind of recognition?

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 25, 2014 at 10:57 PM

      He was voted to the end of season 2nd Team All-Stars twice. He was the best Leaf in their recent not so great era. He was the favorite of lots of young Leafs fans who know the greats of the Cup eras by name only, if that.

      • dueman - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:24 AM

        He was an All Star 9 times as a Leaf in his career. He’s 21st in all time NHL gaols with 564, 34th for assists, with 785, and 27th in points, with 1349. He was also a first ballot Hall of Fame inductee. A lot of great players have worn the Blue and White, but Mats’ numbers speak for themselves. I only wish that Gilmour could have been a leaf for as long as Sundin…

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 26, 2014 at 1:12 AM

        First, I would never suggest that Sundin was other than a great hockey player. I loved watching him play.
        Playing in the NHL All-Star Game, which he did representing the Leafs 8 times, is not to be confused with being named to the end of season NHL All-Star teams, which he was twice. They are separate and distinct honors. It’s my understanding that every team must be represented in the All-Star Game. That is not the case for the NHL All-Star teams selected at the end of the season. Mahovlich was named to the end of season All-Star teams 6 years in a row while a Leaf. He was a major factor in them winning the Cup 4 times in 6 years, and I believe he could have been even more of a force had he not been handled quite poorly by coach Imlach, whose “my way or the highway” mentality was ill suited to getting the most from all his players.
        Sundin’s and Mahovlich’s numbers were actually comparable. Mats scored 31 more NHL goals than Frank, in some 150 more games. I’d put Frank No. 1, with Sundin perhaps No. 2.

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      He won the Mark Messier leadership award.

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:56 PM

        as for merits, he’s the all time Goal and Point leader for the Leafs. Probably why people picked him over Keon or some other cup winning Leafs.

  16. hawkeedawg - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:08 AM

    jason9696….Don’t point your finger at Vancouver alone for sports riots, they have happened in every sport, all over the world. I posted last year on this and if I can remember correctly, the countries with the most riots were…in order
    1. USA
    2. England
    3. Mexico
    4. Italy
    5. An African country that I can’t remember.

    Canada wasn’t even in the top ten.

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:58 PM

      So other riots happen. Most riots have a purpose… not a bunch of sore losers. You can’t change the history that Vancouver has sore TWO loser riots.

  17. blomfeld - Aug 26, 2014 at 12:21 AM

    Keon ? .. Apps ? .. Bower ? .. Baun ? .. Sittler ? … Ellis ? .. Henderson ? .. Kennedy ? .. Mahovlich ? …

    Truly pathetic and ‘utterly’ disrespectful … shame on the so-called ‘connected’ youth of today ! :(

  18. clpalermo94 - Aug 26, 2014 at 6:58 AM

    This is a little surprising. I figured it would have been a cup winner.

  19. bsaures - Aug 26, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    Its not surprising that sundin was voted greatest because the reality is most people alive today dont remember a cup win. To put it into perspective there are people getting ready to retire who dont remember the last time the leafs won. Its hard to remember when there is essentially a almost 50 year period between them.

  20. florida76 - Aug 26, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    The Leafs are like the Rangers in the sense they should have accomplished more since 1967, and don’t really have the star power one would expect from an Original Six franchise which had the advantage of being in existence many decades before others started play.

    11 Cups sounds less impressive when you realize all of those were won in the pre Expansion Six era. It was just easier winning Cups before the modern era with so little competition, in fact, losing teams did so, and that would never happen today. Incredibly, the Leafs also don’t have an all time great player on any top five list I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing to me that two Expansion Six clubs(Pens and Flyers) have outperformed the Leafs since 1967 by a wide margin.

  21. leavesfan67 - Aug 26, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    Sundin was a loser. Great physical talent but came up empty when they needed him most. Best playoff run the Leafs had with him was in 2002 when he was hurt; he came back and they crapped the bed.

    He didn’t want to accept a trade to a contender at end of bis career for chance to win a Cup either. Loser.

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