Sundin wants more time in T.O., his ‘second home’.

Mats Sundin had not heard cheering like it from the balcony since his playing days.

But these weren’t fans from the greens at Air Canada Centre, rather patients and staffers on the upper floors of the Hospital for Sick Children, new home of his old No. 13 banner.

Monday’s ceremony was part of a rare visit by the former Leafs captain, combining business, pleasure, his gifting of the banner and a $330,000 top-up for his foundation that promotes newborn health research at the University of Toronto and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

Clearly moved by a highlight video of his 13 years in blue, the 47-year-old franchise scoring leader said he intends to come back more often.

“Toronto was my second home and I thought I’d be here four or five times a year,” Sundin said. “It’s been maybe once because of family (three kids under six). But I think now as they get older, I’ll be able to spend more time.

“My daughter (Bonnie) said ‘I want to go to Toronto’. She’s seen my statue on Legends Row and she always remembered that. I told my wife (Josephine) when we landed here, it’s like coming home, there are so many memories, from visiting this hospital, being on the ice, being in the dressing room, the practices, all the ups and downs. That’s what life is all about.”


Judging by William Nylander, Andreas Johnsson, Carl Grundstrom, Pierre Engvall, Calle Rosen, Andreas Borgman and Timothy Liljegren, spread between the Leafs and Marlies, the Swedish legacy that began with Borje Salming and Inge Hammarstrom in the 1970s is still going strong.

“An organization such as the Leafs have to be open (minded) and take the talent, no matter what the nationalities are,” said Sundin, who was his country’s advisor at the last World Cup of Hockey. “I think (Toronto coach) Mike Babcock had a lot of success in Detroit with Swedes. Right now, Sweden is developing a lot and we’ll see this year in the draft (projected No. 1 Rasmus Dahlin). I know the Swedes that are part of the Leafs now are very proud to get a chance.

“Management has done a great job building the team the way it should be done. You see the Marlies now in the Calder Cup final and on the Leaf roster. The best players are 21-22. You keep building on that, you have a chance to be good for a long time.

“Washington’s a good example, a good team for a long time, they’ve added players and now they’re deep. Rightfully, they’re in the final.”


Sundin’s was the 19th and last of the ACC banners that were replaced in the club’s centennial year to find new public spaces. Most of the numbers of the honoured Leafs, alive and passed, were hung at hometown rinks, including Salming’s in the northern mining town of Kiruna.

But Sundin had a different idea, wanting it for a place he often visited with teammates or quiet time with the young patients away from the cameras.

“It came to me as soon as I got the question. You think hockey is the most important thing, then you come here and understand what real courage is, a reality check about challenges. You have your own children, you understand what families and staff go through here daily, with extremely difficult situations.”


Garret Sparks was not the reason the Marlies lost a tight Game 2 of the final to the Texas Stars, but there’ll be extra pressure on the goalie to hold the fort the next three games on the road.

If the home Stars check like they did on Sunday (Game 3 is Tuesday in Cedar Park, near Austin), Sparks will have to stop some more odd-man rushes off of turnovers. But he reminded reporters he plays for the AHL’s top regular season road team, which is a further 4-2 in playoffs.

“We have a character group who raise their level in opponents’ buildings and feed off the energy,” Sparks said on Sunday night. “We don’t change much when you’ve won 10 in a row (ending in Sunday’s 2-1 loss).”

The HEB Center seats about 8,000, which is similar to Ricoh. The Stars have a record of 7-1 at home in playoffs, but this will be the Marlies first game there this year.


Could Sunday have been Marlies captain Ben Smith’s last game at Ricoh? With the Cup possibly being decided on the road, there are rumours the pending UFA forward will join Adler Mannheim of the DEL, Germany’s top division, next year. “No comment,” Smith said when asked about the rumours … TSN2 will be carrying the games from Texas.

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