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Why was Mats Sundin traded from the Nordiques?

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Old
02-08-2012, 07:47 AM
  #26
Drake1588
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There are a few factors.

The Nordiques were not then a playoff team, and Sundin was not just coming off a 114-point season. They had missed the 1994 playoffs, and Sundin had put up 85 points in 1993-1994, down from 114 in the 1992-1993 season. Keep in mind also that point-per-game production in 1994 didn't mean what it means in 2012. It would be like, say, the Avalanche trading Paul Stastny today. Sure, he has put up major points in the recent past, but what has he done more recently? That kind of angle. Sundin had just racked up disappointing production numbers, and the team had missed the playoffs (this was a critical time for the franchise, soon to move out of the province. Missing the playoffs wasn't acceptable given the rest of the team's travails.) So you exaggerate two key points as to the team and player's most recent success.

Secondly, the Nordiques were loaded with talent at the center position, with Sakic and Sundin and Ricci, and Forsberg on the way. They were also attributing losses to the Canadiens in the post-season (not the most recent 1994 playoffs, but 1993) to a lack of leadership. So what they were doing was trying to trade youth at a position of strength for experience at a position of relative weakness on the wing.

It didn't work out the way that they had hoped, but a younger fan may not realize the cachet that Wendel Clark had in Toronto at the time. Yes, he had played a lot of heavy minutes, and would soon begin to decline precipitously, but that was not known at the time. Then, he was a renowned leader for a major Canadian franchise. If you felt your club needed leadership in the summer of 1994, you probably would have identified Clark as a trade target very quickly.

Sundin went on to become a star for 15+ years in Toronto and injuries derailed Clark's effectiveness and tenure with the Nordiques/Avalanche, but it's only easy to see this with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. Was it a poor trade? In retrospect, certainly, and maybe even at the time it was a risk. This wasn't as clear in 1994, though. Clark was then a God in Canada.

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02-08-2012, 08:34 AM
  #27
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I was sitting in the stands at the old mall in Hartford on Draft Day, 1994 when this deal went down. I remember the buzz that deal created all over the arena the minute it was announced. It was quite awesome. It literally shook up the NHL, this deal did.

To this day, I still wonder what the Nords could have done had they just moved one of Sundin or Forsberg to wing. Sundin spent time on both RW and LW in his first few seasons in Quebec, and Forsberg eventually wound up a LW by the end of his career. I would love to have seen that duo together for a long stretch.

Things worked out in the end, but I still always wonder what they could have done all together. And this is not a knock against Wendel Clark, of course, one of my favorite players of all time.

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02-08-2012, 10:51 AM
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feffan View Post
Even thou this worked out just fine for Quebec/Colorado this is one of my favourite "what ifs".

Hated the trade when it happened, hate it now. Was looking forward to seeing two young star swedes on the same team and in retro would love to have seen to of my favourite all time swedish hockeyplayers on the same team. And add Sakic, another favourite player of that generation... Forsbergs passing with Sundins heavy shot. Or Forsberg to a free Sundin in the slot using his perfection of a backhandmove. Could have been classic combinations. Getting carried away here I could talk about this for hours, even on a party dominated by attractive interesting ladies. A few questions aroses quite fast:

Who would have moved to the wing? My thought is actually Sundin (even if he probably would take most of Forsbergs draws...).

Would Sundin be as loyal and stay as long with this franchise? They had the money, so I donīt see why he also would hang on to the lock out.

Wich trades would instead have taken place to fill the holes in Colorado? Some players would "lose" their cups, some would "gain" a cup or two...

Sundins legacy is probably what most would benefit from this. He would most surely have atleast one cup and greater regular season stats. He showed from time to time in the national team that he was clutch and on par with the best of his generation when on the national team playing with good players.
I was watching an old game... it was the playoffs - the last series the Nords had before bowing out, and becoming the Avs.... anyways, Forsberg was on a line with Joe a lot of the time. Forsberg also played with Nolan a lot in the game. I wasn't paying enough attention, so maybe Joe and Foppa were only together on the PP, but i'm pretty sure it was even strength.... their chemistry was ridiculously beautiful. I wonder if Sundin wouldn't have gotten relegated to a distinct second line guy? Joe's wrist shot with Pete's hitting, passing, and puck control game = very nice!

It is fun to speculate on this one. I wish it could have been! The only guys that might disagree would be opposing goalies, and maybe Milan Hejduk!

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02-08-2012, 02:13 PM
  #29
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Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
They had too many centers and trading for Clark eventually resulted in Claude Lemieux. No Claude Lemieux, no Stanley Cup. In the end, it worked out for the Nordiques/Avalanche.
Why not? Lemieux sometimes gets overrated when it comes to his contribution to his 4 Cups. He was good in 1986, a Conn Smythe winner in 1995 and a role player in 2000.

In 1996 he did fine, but 12 points in 19 games wasn't going to make or break that team. He was suspended for his hit on Draper, wasn't a big factor against Detroit or in the final. In the closest series the Avs faced against Chicago he wasn't a big factor. He was good in the first round in Vancouver though. But really, he was far down the Avs pecking list.

But here is something I have always felt about Sundin. Would he have been a great right winger? Think about this, there is Sakic and Forsberg at center. Sundin shifts to the right on either line. He is bigger and can manage the boards. There is less defensive responsibility as a winger and Sundin had a wicked shot at times when he shifted down to the wing. I think he would have been just fine there.

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02-08-2012, 03:00 PM
  #30
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Thanks for all the responses guys! Very interesting. I must have misread/messed up the stats and mixed up the seasons originally but all interesting nonetheless... What could have been..

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02-08-2012, 03:18 PM
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Why not? Lemieux sometimes gets overrated when it comes to his contribution to his 4 Cups. He was good in 1986, a Conn Smythe winner in 1995 and a role player in 2000.

In 1996 he did fine, but 12 points in 19 games wasn't going to make or break that team. He was suspended for his hit on Draper, wasn't a big factor against Detroit or in the final. In the closest series the Avs faced against Chicago he wasn't a big factor. He was good in the first round in Vancouver though. But really, he was far down the Avs pecking list.

But here is something I have always felt about Sundin. Would he have been a great right winger? Think about this, there is Sakic and Forsberg at center. Sundin shifts to the right on either line. He is bigger and can manage the boards. There is less defensive responsibility as a winger and Sundin had a wicked shot at times when he shifted down to the wing. I think he would have been just fine there.
agree largely about Lemieux. I mean, it's speculation, and he DID help - but he wasn't as integral as 5 other guys i can think of right off the bat.

Sundin probably would make a good winger. I think it wouldn't matter which one went to wing, nor which one played with Sakic... or if neither did. Just a ton of talent and heart, in any scenario.

Forsberg played left wing in '06 Oly's with Mats at center, i'm pretty sure. He was probably a bit out of shape from all the time off - but i have always thought of him as the winger of the two. even though, he was more of a two-way player... I also liked the way he Ovechkined the offensive zone... woulda worked in any combo.

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02-08-2012, 03:34 PM
  #32
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What made Claude Lemieux so effective over a player like Sundin is that he did things on the ice that brought attention to him. He opened up space for his linemates (Forsberg and Kamensky) and he took the toll of abuse. Claude was the best pest in the NHL and I think acquiring him (coupled with the Roy trade) really gave the Avalanche the edge they were looking for when they acquired Wendel Clark.

The Avs also benefited from having an influx of youth that stepped into important roles. The emergence of Deadmarsh for example enabled them to acquire a highly skilled puck moving defenseman that they were lacking by trading Owen Nolan for Sandis Ozolinsh. On paper that looks like a one-sided win for the Sharks, but Ozolinsh at the time was considered to be one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL.

Colorado's depth up front also gave them the ability to move two of their top six wingers in Kovalenko and Rucinsky to acquire Patrick Roy and Mike Keane, who also played a huge role in the playoffs. In a nutshell, trading Sundin triggered a series of transactions that made the Avs a more complete team. With Sundin, they would have been stuck with too much finesse and not enough grit, which was necessary at that time. Without that grit, who knows if they would have outlasted Chicago and Detroit.

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02-08-2012, 04:48 PM
  #33
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Don't forget, there's no law of the universe that says they couldn't have kept Sundin and then acquired Lemieux or another player like him with other assets.

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02-08-2012, 05:21 PM
  #34
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Originally Posted by TheMoreYouKnow View Post
Don't forget, there's no law of the universe that says they couldn't have kept Sundin and then acquired Lemieux or another player like him with other assets.
Claude Lemieux was coming out of a Conn Smythe year where he was an absolute beast in the playoffs for the Devils. If it wasn't Sundin, then Owen Nolan would likely have been moved to acquire Claude Lemieux. But then they would have to move someone else to acquire Sandis Ozolinsh.

In the end, losing Sundin really didn't hurt Colorado one bit. They had the trio of Sakic, Forsberg and Ricci for many years, and eventually when Ricci moved on they had other players like Drury, Tanguay, and Hejduk emerge as pivotal players (hell you could even include Stephane Yelle in that group as he was their top shut down center who took over Ricci's role). They still had the assets to acquire a Roy, Bourque and Blake even after they had dealt Sundin, Clark and Nolan.

Would Colorado have won a Cup with Sundin? Perhaps, but they also proved that they didn't need him to achieve that.

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02-08-2012, 05:26 PM
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tombombadil View Post
agree largely about Lemieux. I mean, it's speculation, and he DID help - but he wasn't as integral as 5 other guys i can think of right off the bat.

Sundin probably would make a good winger. I think it wouldn't matter which one went to wing, nor which one played with Sakic... or if neither did. Just a ton of talent and heart, in any scenario.

Forsberg played left wing in '06 Oly's with Mats at center, i'm pretty sure. He was probably a bit out of shape from all the time off - but i have always thought of him as the winger of the two. even though, he was more of a two-way player... I also liked the way he Ovechkined the offensive zone... woulda worked in any combo.
Sundin played RW on Sakic's and Gilmour's wing at different times in his career too. At their best, his skill-set was better suited to the wing than Forsberg's I think. Better (or more willing) shooter, but not quite the passer Forsberg was. Something like Deadmarsh-Forsberg-Sundin would have been a nightmare to contain down low.


Last edited by arrbez: 02-08-2012 at 07:03 PM.
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02-08-2012, 05:38 PM
  #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feffan View Post
Even thou this worked out just fine for Quebec/Colorado this is one of my favourite "what ifs".

Hated the trade when it happened, hate it now. Was looking forward to seeing two young star swedes on the same team and in retro would love to have seen to of my favourite all time swedish hockeyplayers on the same team. And add Sakic, another favourite player of that generation... Forsbergs passing with Sundins heavy shot. Or Forsberg to a free Sundin in the slot using his perfection of a backhandmove. Could have been classic combinations. Getting carried away here I could talk about this for hours, even on a party dominated by attractive interesting ladies. A few questions aroses quite fast:

Who would have moved to the wing? My thought is actually Sundin (even if he probably would take most of Forsbergs draws...).

Would Sundin be as loyal and stay as long with this franchise? They had the money, so I donīt see why he also would hang on to the lock out.

Wich trades would instead have taken place to fill the holes in Colorado? Some players would "lose" their cups, some would "gain" a cup or two...

Sundins legacy is probably what most would benefit from this. He would most surely have atleast one cup and greater regular season stats. He showed from time to time in the national team that he was clutch and on par with the best of his generation when on the national team playing with good players.
Early on the Avs did NOT have a lot of money. iirc that offersheet Sakic signed gave them trouble. Ascent were not rich owners imo.

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02-09-2012, 06:33 AM
  #37
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Sundin on the nords was not the leader and team player of the one he became on the Leafs. If I recall correctly, Sundin was considered somewhat of a selfish player and not a team guy.

It took him being traded to Toronto to become the player people remember him as.

Someone might remember more clearly. But during his breakout Season he was on a 2-1 or maybe even a 2-0 with an empty net. The guy with him needed a goal for a Hat trick (not sure who). Sundin didn't pass and Cherry was all over him for not taking care of his team mate. Anyone remember that?

Sundin became a heck of a player and his heart can never be question now, but it took playing in Toronto to be that guy. He was always going to be 2nd or 3rd fiddle on the Nords.

Sundin really matured in the Spotlight.

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02-09-2012, 09:57 AM
  #38
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Originally Posted by tombombadil View Post
Sundin probably would make a good winger
yeah who knows, but all the muscles|weight he put on later on in toronto made him kind of slow, guys acceleration was awful

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02-09-2012, 10:10 AM
  #39
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Not only was Clark a God in Toronto and still is. Sylvain Lefebvre was the leafs best defensive defenseman. Even though he's the leafs all time leading scorer Many fans held a grudge over Sundin until the day he retired. That's how much Clark was loved. In his prime not only would he lead the Leafs in goals he would also be the teams enforcer. He would fight anyone including beating Probert more times then not. Not to mention he was one of the leagues hardest hitters.

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02-09-2012, 10:29 AM
  #40
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Why not? Lemieux sometimes gets overrated when it comes to his contribution to his 4 Cups. He was good in 1986, a Conn Smythe winner in 1995 and a role player in 2000.

In 1996 he did fine, but 12 points in 19 games wasn't going to make or break that team. He was suspended for his hit on Draper, wasn't a big factor against Detroit or in the final. In the closest series the Avs faced against Chicago he wasn't a big factor. He was good in the first round in Vancouver though. But really, he was far down the Avs pecking list.

But here is something I have always felt about Sundin. Would he have been a great right winger? Think about this, there is Sakic and Forsberg at center. Sundin shifts to the right on either line. He is bigger and can manage the boards. There is less defensive responsibility as a winger and Sundin had a wicked shot at times when he shifted down to the wing. I think he would have been just fine there.
He did well as a winger when he played the position.

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02-09-2012, 10:30 AM
  #41
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The reason? Money, which is the number one reason for trades in the NHL. The Nordiques couldn't afford to keep all of the stars that they had.

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02-09-2012, 10:40 AM
  #42
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Cliff Fletcher looked very good in this trade from a hockey perspective. But from a fans perspective, it reminded Leafs fans of the Lanny MacDonald trade all over again. Talk about salt in the wounds. And then when Sundin refused a trade from the Leafs and ended up signing with Vancouver, Leafs fans were beside themselves. Sometimes, some players are just meant to play out their careers in certain cities.
I was beside myself? Once Fletcher entertained the the idea of trading Sundin to Montreal anything that Sundin did to the organization was a-ok in my mind.

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02-09-2012, 06:37 PM
  #43
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I haven't read many replies to the tread, but Clark was a superb player at the time, he was a top fighter and just came off a career year and was entering his prime years (he was also a first overall pick, like Mats). Many in Toronto actually felt it was a bad trade at the time. I guess it must have been the feeling in St. Louis when they traded Shanahan for Pronger. I remember the feeling in Toronto at the time was WTF, we just traded out most beloved athlete.

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02-09-2012, 08:05 PM
  #44
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The reason? Money, which is the number one reason for trades in the NHL. The Nordiques couldn't afford to keep all of the stars that they had.
If I recall correctly, was Sundin not asking to have his contract re-negotiated with Quebec? And Quebec had a no-renogotiation policy so they traded him? Didn't Toronto immediately give him a new contract when he arrived? I agree with everything already posted, but somehow I think Sundin asking for a raise while already in the doghouse made him the expendable one...

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02-09-2012, 09:10 PM
  #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Why not? Lemieux sometimes gets overrated when it comes to his contribution to his 4 Cups. He was good in 1986, a Conn Smythe winner in 1995 and a role player in 2000.

In 1996 he did fine, but 12 points in 19 games wasn't going to make or break that team. He was suspended for his hit on Draper, wasn't a big factor against Detroit or in the final. In the closest series the Avs faced against Chicago he wasn't a big factor. He was good in the first round in Vancouver though. But really, he was far down the Avs pecking list..
But you're only looking at the four years he won the Stanley Cup, which don't even include four of his top six playoff runs in terms of points.

1987: 13 points in 17 games
1994: 18 points in 20 games
1997: 13 goals and 23 points in 17 games
1999: 14 points in 19 games

Between 1986 and 1998, the leaders in playoff goals were Claude Lemieux with 73 (26% were GWGs) and Esa Tikkanen with 72. Clearly not the best players in the world, but that's just a fun, cherry-picked statistic about two guys that knew how to get into their opponents' heads during a two-week series. The way he complemented Forsberg (and Sakic in 1997) made it worth losing Sundin for Clark. Of course, Lemieux himself was later turned into Rolston who was turned into Bourque, so the franchise got its money worth from the Toronto deal and the key piece from each subsequent trade.

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02-09-2012, 09:32 PM
  #46
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Would Sundin be as loyal and stay as long with this franchise? They had the money, so I donīt see why he also would hang on to the lock out.
The Avalanche, historically, have not been huge spenders.

Take 2000-2001 for example, when they won the cup with a roster that cost $51.7 million despite more than half of the money ($25.4 m) going into the salaries of three players (Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy).

They were able to pull off a roster that inexpensive because they had several players making less than 800K (and four making less than 500K), so obviously a similar model wouldn't work in today's NHL.

But the point is that they could have spent more. Pierre Lacroix was forced to pawn off Sandis Ozolinsh to the Carolina Hurricanes for draft picks because KSE didn't want to pay his $4 m salary, even though he was one of Colorado's best players and the team was a step away from winning the Stanley Cup.

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