Mats Sundin undecided about future with Leafs

Mats Sundin was in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to receive the Mark Messier Award for the leadership he provided the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, but everyone wanted to know whether he will lead the team next season.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin was in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to receive the Mark Messier Award for the leadership he provided last season.

However, it remains to be seen if he will lead them again next season.

Sundin, the franchise leader in goals and points, is an unrestricted free agent on July 1, leaving some to wonder whether he will retire and, if not, whether he will re-sign with the Maple Leafs.

"I think I have to make a decision pretty soon if I am going to play next year and get training," he said. "The biggest decision is if I feel I am physically and mentally ready."

Sundin has played the last 13 of his 17 NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs, who acquired him from the Quebec Nordiques in a blockbuster trade on June 28, 1994.

At 37, he remains Toronto's most prolific forward, leading the Maple Leafs with 32 goals and 78 points in 74 games last season.

"For me to come back to Toronto, Toronto has got to show me they really want me to come back," Sundin said.

Asked if Toronto's much-documented search for a team president and general manager will impact his decision, Sundin replied: "I think it will have an effect, knowing how we played the last three years, how we missed the playoffs. I would like to see that the team is making a real effort to improve."

Pressed about whether he might consider signing elsewhere as a free agent, Sundin said: "I have not even thought about it. The biggest thing is I want to see what happens with the Leafs first."

Cliff Fletcher, who swung the swap for Sundin, returned Jan. 22 to the Maple Leafs as interim general manager, replacing the fired John Ferguson Jr., to help fix the floundering franchise, which missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

Fletcher asked Sundin to waive his no-trade clause so he could peddle the long-time captain for prospects at the NHL trade deadline.

Sundin rejected the request, preferring to stay put rather than be traded to a Stanley Cup contender and possibly re-sign with Toronto as a free agent in the off-season.  

"I still do want to remain and end my career with the Maple Leafs," he said.

Sundin has posted 555 goals and 766 assists for 1,321 points in 1,305 NHL games since he was drafted first overall by Quebec in 1989.

With files from the Canadian Press