Don Cherry says Sundin should accept a trade
Leafs' captain points to advice from former star Esposito to follow his heart
Don Cherry says Mats Sundin should not be thinking of staying if the Toronto Maple Leafs want to trade him to another team.
His comments, on the Coach's Corner segment of Hockey Night in Canada, came after a surreal day that saw the Leafs' captain once again tell the assembled media throng at the Air Canada Centre he'd rather not leave town before the trade deadline on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.
The big centre has a no-trade clause in his contract and his comments left Cherry perplexed.
"How can a guy stay when [the team] says 'we want to get rid of you?'" Cherry asked host Ron McLean, adding the key point in his mind was the club no longer wants its captain.
After the game, Sundin spoke with CBC reporter Elliotte Friedman, saying changes at the deadline are "nothing you want to see happen as a team and as a player at this point."
He said he's in a tough spot, especially with some Leafs' fans questioning the way he has balked recently at leaving town.
"I am in a difficult situation, there's no doubt about that," Sundin said. "It seems like whatever I decide to do [there's] going to be something wrong with that."
Some help may have come in the form of a Hall of Famer.
"You know, I talked to Phil Esposito a couple of weeks ago after a game, and he came up to me and I'd never actually talked to him before," Sundin told Friedman. "He said 'make sure whatever you are doing you are making the decision with your heart and not with your brain.'
"So we'll see what happens here, but I do have some thinking ahead, things to sort out."
Fletcher says perhaps by Sunday
Earlier on the broadcast, Toronto general manager Cliff Fletcher said he expected to hear from Sundin and his agent, J.P. Barry, by late Sunday.
"Actually, Mats and his agent are considering their options right now and I anticipate they'll get back to us probably sometime late tomorrow," Fletcher told Friedman.
"We haven't searched out anything [in the way of a deal] for Mats and won't until he makes his decision," he said. "At that time, we'll approach the teams to see what would be available for us."
McCabe is thinking about deal
The Leafs' interim boss also said he was waiting to hear from defenceman Bryan McCabe, another player with a no-trade deal.
"He was going to go home and talk it over with his wife and family and give me a response," Fletcher said.
McCabe had a quick between-periods chat with Friedman during the Saturday game with Atlanta where he reiterated his first choice was to stay in Toronto but said he owed it to his family to talk with them.
Because the defenceman's wife is from Long Island, N.Y., there is some speculation a deal in that direction — perhaps to the New York Rangers — might be in the works.