We are kept down because we hate
Fine. I'm sure some people will feel that way. Others will sit on their hands, and of course some will boo. I know some people have been counting down to Saturday night since the minute Sundin signed with the Canucks, prepared from the get-go to voice their displeasure, while others have continued to love Sundin for what he did while playing for Toronto rather than focusing on his ugly departure. I'll be watching on TV, and it seems kind of ridiculous to boo a television. I myself might throw some Doritos if Sundin scores, but that will probably be the extent of it.
The way Cox sees it, there are only two things Leafs fans need to consider when deciding whether or not to let their anger rain down on Mats Sundin this coming weekend:
Leaf fans, really, should care about only two Sundin related issues. First, that the classy Swede grew sick of the screwed-up manner in which the Toronto operation was being run. Are things different under Brian Burke? We're still learning the answer to that question.
Second, as with any number of good players in recent years, Sundin left town without fetching any assets in return. This is an organization that has consistently been unable to understand that the best time to move athletes is at the peak of their value, not when they've outlived their usefulness.
Lets look at that second point, because, well, I mean, umm, well...did I imagine everything that happened last February? Fletcher publicly asking Sundin to waive his NTC, Sundin looking worn down and on the verge of tears as he stated for the thousandth time that he didn't want to go anywhere, Godd Till writing Rosie-esque mash-notes to the beleaguered Swede, and so on. This all happened right?
If, as Cox suggests, the lack of assets in return for Sundin are what Leafs fans should really care about, isn't there really one person to fault here (well, two, because JFJ deserves his share of blame here too, but I don't think there is much debate as to whether or not he will be barraged with boos when he ever steps foot back in the ACC)? Fletcher tried to move Sundin for assets, but he wouldn't go. Correct? Huh? Cox?!?!
Maybe Cox means that the Leafs should have traded Sundin earlier, that Sundin was well past the peak of his value and had long outlived his usefulness (and, before he had an NTC). Should the Leafs have traded Sundin back in 1997, after he put up a career high 94 points? "Hey Mats, you had a great year, and we're building this team back up so that we can compete in a year or two, but we've decided to trade you to the Panthers for a couple picks because your value will probably never be higher. Thanks for everything."
Or, when we're discussing Cox, we'd have to look at Sundin's 98-99 season when he registered a career best +22. I mean, what better way to value a player than plus/minus. The Leafs should have shipped his ass out of town following their loss to Buffalo in the Eastern Conference Final. So what if he was the key player on a strong team with a chance to compete for five more years. We needed assets. Stat!
The Leafs did try to trade Sundin when they felt he had outlived his usefulness to them. We can argue as to when his value was at its highest, but you also have to consider how valuable he was to the Leafs themselves (you don't simply trade a player because he can fetch assets). The fact that Sundin got the contract he did in Vancouver leads me to believe that he was still rated highly by other teams in the league.
But, I am really over-thinking this one. Cox's column in a nutshell: Leafs fans shouldn't be upset with Sundin, they should be upset with the people responsible for not fetching any return for Mats Sundin. Those people, of course, are Mats Sundin and... But we shouldn't be upset with him, because it wasn't really his fault. We should be upset because the Leafs let Sundin go for free and didn't receive anything in return. And we know who is to blame for that. Right?
Jesus, I'm getting dizzy trying to follow Cox's logic on this one. It's like watching a flushing toilet bowl, going round and round and round and round with a great big piece of crap floating around the middle.