Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday's Hazie

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae.

For those of you who haven't been here before, Monday night entries are used to take a look back at the week that was in the world of sports and highlight some of the more notable performances. The winners are awarded a "Hazie" and have the title of "Hazel's Hero" bestowed upon them. While Hazel hasn't officially approved the list of winners - we'd like to think that she'd give her trademark smile and thumbs up (perfectly manicured I might add).

Tonight, there is only one award being given out - and I'm sure Hazel would agree with this one. The Hazie goes out to one of Hazel's pals from Toronto.

Toronto Maple Leafs Captain Mats Sundin scored a hat-trick, including the overtime winner, on Saturday night against the Calgary Flames. What made the goal memorable was that it was his 500th career goal. The list of Sundin's accomplishments are too numerous to mention here tonight, but here is what you need to know about Sundin's 500th:
  • it was his 15th career regular season overtime goal - the most ever; and
  • it was his 73rd career game winner for the Maple Leafs.
Sundin was acquired by the Maple Leafs from the Quebec Nordiques in a blockbuster deal that included Maple Leafs fan favourite Wendel Clark going the other way. Sundin's career in Toronto, while stellar, has often been marred by fans and critics who never accepted the loss of Clark and would blame Sundin for any and all of the team's shortcomings. Sundin was often criticize for not being good enough, not working hard enough, not being a leader - all of the criticisms were unfounded and just plain garbage.

Sundin, being the class act he has always been, took the criticism to heart and channeled it to improve his game - he never lashed out at fans or the media for unfair criticism, he just went out and worked harder; and continued to produce. He would step aside and allow teammates to reap praise and adulation from fans when the team was winning - but would always be front and center to answer questions and shoulder the blame for any of the team's failures. He never felt threatened when management would go out and acquire fan favourites such as Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk, or Jason Allison and Eric Lindros; or when they went back to the past for former stars like Clark and Doug Gilmour.

Sundin always took things in stride and went out to do the best job that he could. It took years for the fans in Toronto to acknowledge what other fans around the league had always known - Sundin was one of the top players in the game and Leaf Nation was lucky to have him. Think about it:
  • he was brought in from the outside to replace a fan favourite and make the team better;
  • he never lashed out or complained about critics - instead working harder to change their minds;
  • he shows courage in sticking it out in a city that, at the beginning, didn't really warm up to him;
  • he eventually turns the critics into supporters through his play, leading his team to places they had not been to in a long time.
Sound familiar? Know of anyone who went through stuff like that? I'll give you a few seconds to ponder that...I'll give you a hint. She's been called "The Gamer". Yup, I think Hazel would agree with honouring Sundin and awarding him a Hazie.

That's about it for tonight gang - have a great one peeps!

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world.

Song of the Night on Hazelspeeps - for Mats Sundin, the overtime killer

Enter Sandman - Metallica

Peesth Out...Buh Bye!


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