Former Leaf great Sundin announces retirement

Mats Sundin, the longtime captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has officially announced his retirement from the National Hockey League.

The Swedish centre played with Toronto for 13 seasons before joining the Vancouver Canucks for 41 games last year.

“It was a tough decision,” Sundin told reporters Wednesday at a news conference at Stockholm’s Grand Hotel. “It’s sad to tell you today that my career as a pro hockey player is over.”

Sundin retires as Toronto’s all-time leading goal and point scorer. As a Maple Leaf he averaged better then a point-per-game with 987 in 981 appearances.

Drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1989, Sundin accumulated a career total of 1,349 points over 1,346 games.

Leading the Leafs

Named Toronto’s captain during the 1996-1997 season, he led the team to two Eastern Conference finals and a total of eight playoff appearances. He also played in the All-Star game eight times.

He was traded to the Maple Leafs in 1994.

Quebec sent Sundin, Garth Butcher, Todd Warriner, and a 1994 first-round draft pick to Toronto in exchange for then-Leafs captain Wendel Clark, Sylvain Lefebvre, Landon Wilson and a 1994 first-round draft pick.

During Wednesday’s press conference, he made sure to thank the Maple Leafs organization.

“Toronto is and will always be my second home,” Sundin said.

Move to Vancouver

The 2007-2008 season was tumultuous with former general manager John Ferguson Jr. asking Sundin to waive his no-trade clause.

Sundin refused, and in the off-season became a free agent for the first time in his career. After much deliberation, he agreed to a one-year contract with Vancouver in mid-December 2008.

Debuting with the Canucks on Jan. 7, Sundin scored nine goals and 19 assists in 41 games.

International success

Born in Bromma, Sweden, the big centre also excelled in international competition, winning an Olympic gold medal at the 2006 Turin games.

He also played for Sweden in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, leading in both goals and points and being named to the all-star team.

Sundin also won three IIHF World Championship titles in 1991, ’92 and ’98.

Asked about playing for his national team at the Vancouver Olympics in January, Sundin ruled out the possibility.

“I don’t know if I’ll be involved in hockey in the future,” he said. “But I will always have a close relationship with hockey. My love for hockey will always be there.”