Toronto Maple Leafs: Why Mats Sundin’s praise for Auston Matthews is significant


Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin spoke yesterday about the team’s star center, giving high praise for Auston Matthews.

It is not often that we get to hear from former Toronto Maple Leafs‘ captain Mats Sundin and his latest conversation with Rosie DiManno from the Toronto Star provided some noteworthy praise for Auston Matthews.

The now 46-year-old spoke about his busy life after hockey with his young family but said that he keeps an eye on his former team and is impressed with the work being done by this management group.

Then the conversation turned to the player who has taken up the mantle that he vacated back in 2008 when he left in free agency to sign with the Vancouver Canucks. Matthews has already set new Leafs records and the longer his career in Toronto goes, the closer he will get to breaking some of Sundin’s records.

"“I will say it’s fantastic watching him play, seeing a young man maturing, developing even from last year, and he’s hardly even started his career yet. I have him right up there with Connor McDavid. The Leafs have waited so long to have a young franchise player to build around. He’s that player.’’"

This type of praise should mean a lot to the Leafs and Matthews considering Sundin knows what it takes to contribute with the demands of this market.

It was hard to criticize Sundin during his time in Toronto considering the supporting cast he had yet and it would have be nice to see him lead the team to a Stanley Cup or even an appearance in the finals.

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Now the Leafs are looking for a redo with Matthews leading an impressive core of young talent. His play on the ice and calm demeanour makes him a no brainer choice to don the C like Sundin once did.

“In my book, he’s obviously the right person to be captain, no doubt about that. He leads on the ice and you can tell he’s a good man off the ice” said Sundin.

During his time in Toronto, Sundin was not known for being the most vocal guy as he wanted his play to speak for itself. Despite the comparisons in behaviour and approach to the game, Sundin told DiManno that he would not want to compare himself to Matthews.

Sundin’s vote of approval for Matthews to be the next captain should speak volumes considering when Dion Phaneuf was the Leafs captain, he was constantly criticized and eventually traded to Ottawa.

This time around the Leafs are being patient with the decision and having the vote of approval from arguably one of the best captains in franchise history should say a lot, especially when he put Matthews in the same company as Connor McDavid.

Next: Where has the Toronto Maple Leafs offence gone?

If and when the Leafs decide to name a captain, maybe it should take the opinion of a player who had his jersey retired and a statue on Legend’s Row when looking at names.