If you want to know how big Mats Sundin’s arrival in Vancouver is, all you need to do is check out the very TMZ-like video on TSN. Or the live-stream of his first practice in a Canucks jersey on the team website. Or the live-stream of his press conference after his first practice in a Canucks jersey.
After Sundin signed, I mentioned that expectations for this team just got way higher, and that’s exactly what’s happened. But also, the excitement and hype meters surrounding them are through the roof. In the week and a half since Sundin signed, almost all of my conversations with families and friends included the seemingly obligatory “What do you think about Sundin signing here?” topic.
Here’s Ben Kuzma (Vancouver Province):
From the moment the Canucks tendered a two-year, $20-million-US offer for the highly coveted unrestricted free agent on July 1, the hype meter has gone off the scale in the hope that the team would finally secure what it so sorely needs — a bona fide big, dominant first-line centre.
Sundin may not be the Pope, but he’s already being regarded as a saviour for a franchise that hasn’t captured a Stanley Cup in its 38-year existence. That intrigue had Swedish journalists at practice Monday to measure the degree of anticipation. After all, when Sundin chose a one-year, pro-rated deal annualized at $8.6 million — which is a salary cap hit of $5.625 million — over a $2.5-million offer from the New York Rangers, visions of playoff success started dancing in the heads of the local hockey populace.
Regarded as a saviour and treated like a rock star. I hope Mats is ready.
[update: 12/30/2008, 8:21 am]
Sundin’s first practice and press conference should be live at 10:30 am.