My least favourite season in this business, my annus horribilis, was 2004-2005, a.k.a: The NHL Lockout. Not only was there no hockey, but months went by without anything of substance happening, yet we still had to talk about it on TV every night. It became Seinfeld, without the comedy. A show about nothing.
Mats Sundin has become The Lockout, version 2K8.
For six months, we've been waiting for him to make up his mind. Six months!?! Presidents and Prime Ministers have been elected. Economies have crumbled. And still, we wait on Mats.
Somebody shoot me. Wait, time to update that phrase: Somebody Plaxico me.
In what psychologists would deem a cry for help, I decided to compile a timeline of the Sundin saga; a form of self-inflicted torture much more horrific than anything that sicko in the Saw movies could dream up. I've added footnotes for…umm…historical perspective.
June 12 - Toronto grants permission to the New York Rangers to talk to Sundin.
(Doesn't that feel like it was 27 years ago?)
June 20 - Leafs grant Montreal permission to talk to Sundin.
(Wouldn't life be great if people couldn't talk to you unless they were granted permisssion? Like, say…telemarketers. And in-laws.)
July 1 - Sundin officially becomes a free agent.
(Within hours, Michael Ryder gets four million a year, Jeff Finger gets 3.5 a year, Cristobal Huet gets 5.6…what does that makes Mats worth? This is going to get silly.)
July 1 - Vancouver offers Sundin $20 million over 2 years.
July 10 - Sundin says no thank-you to Vancouver, and all other offers, saying he's not sure if he wants to play.
(When you can say no to 20 million, you clearly have made way too much money in your life. Or you really, really, hate rain.)
July 15 - Rangers officially declare they're still interested.
(I officially declare that I'm losing interest already.)
July 23 - Report indicates Sundin will decide his future on Aug 1st.
(I recoil in fear, thinking TSN will schedule a "Sundin Decision Day" special, forcing me to miss August long weekend horseshoe tournament at cottage. This would hurt me more than you will ever know.)
July 30 - Sundin's agent JP Barry says on Vancouver radio that six teams are interested in Sundin and that he's informed them he'll make a decision in August.
(I believe this is the same way Tom Cruise chooses his wives.)
Aug 1 - Sundin sets soft deadline of Aug 15 for decision.
("Soft deadline?" Isn't that like "Almost pregnant"?)
Sept. 2 - Sundin announces that he won't make his decision until after the season starts.
(So when you said "soft deadline", you meant really really soft, like…mushed bananas.)
Sept. 3 - Sundin says: "I haven't even looked at different options, or teams, or where to play. My first question is, do I want to play any more?"
(13 Seasons with the Leafs can have that affect on a guy.)
Sept. 5 - Sundin returns to Toronto to play in a charity ball-hockey game.
(Confused New York Islanders scout notes that his skating looks shaky.)
Sept. 5 - Sundin meets with Cliff Fletcher.
(Jokester Sundin tells Fletcher he's now ready to waive his no-trade clause. Cliff doesn't laugh.)
1985 - Austrian rock singer Falco records "Rock Me Amadeus!"
(Sorry, mind drifted off for a minute.)
Oct. 4 - Senators owner Eugene Melynk woos Sundin during "chance" meeting at Sens/Pens game in Sweden.
(And by "chance meeting", we mean Melnyk hid in a storage closet in Sundin's luxury box for 18 hours until he showed up.)
Oct. 30 - Sundin starts training in L.A.
(…To be a contestant on American Gladiators.)
Nov. 3 - Bryan Murray indicates Ottawa is still interested in Sundin.
(And by "interested", he means, "Choose us! Choose us! Oh please please please! Have you looked at our secondary scoring?!? We're dying here, Mats!" I'm paraphrasing.)
Nov. 4 - Sundin meets with Brian Burke in Anaheim.
(To do what? Help him pack?)
Nov. 19 - Sundin meets with Bob Gainey in Los Angeles.
(No one gets more free lunches than Mats.)
Nov. 21 - Sundin meets with Melnyk in Los Angeles.
(Why didn't Mats just have one of those group dates they do on "The Bachelor"?)
Dec. 8 - Sundin sets "target date" of December 15th to make decision.
(Is it just me, or does "target date" sound an awful lot like "soft deadline"?)
Dec. 14 - Sundin talks with the New York Rangers.
(Hey, wait a second. We did that one June 12th! Is this show running on a loop?)
Dec. 12 - Dejected columnist realizes he has spent half a day researching a story he was sick of five months ago. Sticks pen in eye.
From The Ottawa Citizen