Quiet Swede Mats Sundin ends 19-year career

Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:58pm EDT
 
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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish center Mats Sundin ended his NHL career quietly on Wednesday, in much the same way as he conducted himself during his 19 years as a professional.

"It's a little sad to announce that my career as a professional hockey player is over," he told reporters.

"I would have loved to play until the age of 65, but as a hockey player you obviously retire a little earlier than that," added the 38-year-old, who began his NHL career with the former Quebec Nordiques in 1990.

The native of Bromma, Sweden moved to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1994 and three years later became the team's first European captain.

Sundin played in a quiet uncomplicated style but still led his team by example. He epitomized the stereotype of the stoic Swede, said Bob Stellick, whose brother Gord was general manager of the Maple Leafs in the late 1980s.

"Mats's role was really being a quiet, strong guy in the dressing room and a good guy in the community," Bob Stellick said.

"Mats is not as loved as he should be by Toronto fans who are very funny. Mats led the scoring here in almost every single year, yet didn't get the credit that he deserved. Hopefully his legacy here will not be the last couple of years."

LAST ATTEMPT

Sundin left the Leafs in 2008 for the Vancouver Canucks in a last attempt to win the Stanley Cup after earlier refusing to allow Toronto to trade him.   Continued...

 
<p>Vancouver Canucks' Mats Sundin (front) celebrates a goal against Colorado Avalanche's Andrew Raycroft by team-mate Alexander Edler (not shown) during the third period of NHL action in Vancouver, British Columbia March 15, 2009. REUTERS/Lyle Stafford</p>