Teemu Selanne and Mats Sundin. What a special caliber of warriors here. Both wore the number 13 and both were beasts in their own right.
Teemu later switched to later to number 8 at some point but I can only remember him as a number 13. Those years watching him with the Jets were a lot of fun. I too threw my hockey glove in the air and pretended to shoot it down during many road hockey games. Given that we were still not 100% slaved to the computers quite yet, we didn’t have access to information as readily as we do now. TV gave us all the highlights we needed. In almost every single interview, Teemu was always smiling. He was easy to talk to, approachable, and willing to crack a joke. Even on TV. I believe Bobby Hull had the same panache in front of the camera. Always smiling, always jovial and forever remembered as the Golden Jet. The people of Winnipeg had a new star on the ice.
Unlike Teemu, Mats never had such an easy road to the NHL. No matter how many points he put up on the board, he always was criticized for being too soft. One could argue that Mats and Vince carter were the only two cover boys for the Maple Leafs Monthly magazine that dealt with Toronto fans on some not so good terms. It took a while for Mats to earn the respects of Leaf Nation. Vince on the other hand, had a less than gracious exit from the Raptors. I will admit that I too thought Mats was too soft. For such a big man, he could easily wipe out an opponent. The turn the other cheek mantra doesn’t bode well the NHL. At least with Leafs fans who were spoiled by the likes of Wendel Clark, Dougie Gilmour, wanted a bruising captain who could score. I am not sure what it is, but at some point, Mats turned the corner. He was finally using his size and he could lean on great defensemen and make them look weak. My favorite play by Mats was the behind the net, with one arm out holding off the attacker. He would swivel in front of the net with this backhand shot ready to be released. Most times it would end up in the net. He was big, he was powerful, he was charismatic, he became the chosen one. I remember in the early days he was not comfy in front of the camera, but all that changed years later. With every follicle of hair lost on his head, the better his on camera persona became.
Ever notice how all the teeth in Mats mouth looked to be the same size? Anyways side bar, where was I?
I do remember stuffing a ballot box at McDonald’s in hopes of winning a Sundin Jersey. Well oddly enough, I won it. However I was the only person over the age of 12 at the unveiling of the winner of the jersey. I was 23 at the time. Yes I am still a little kid. Note that I said “still”. LOL
Both Teemu and Mats have one thing in common other than their European heritage. Both were blessed with amazing genetics. Mats was known for his ability to heal quickly and Teemu is still playing hockey. (I hope for one more year at least). I am not sure what they are eating but I need to order me some!
Both are going to be the hall one day. Mats and Teemu are going to be sorely missed. I do hope they pass on their legendary ice skills to their future kids. Would Mats ever name his son Dean? Would he be known as Matt’s son Dean?