STOCKHOLM // The former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin is retiring from hockey after nearly two decades in the NHL. The 38-year-old Swede, who said he reached the decision this autumn, played for the Vancouver Canucks last season after spending most of his NHL career with the Leafs. "It was a tough decision," Sundin told reporters in Stockholm. "It's sad to tell you today that my career as a pro hockey player is over."
He spent 13 seasons with Toronto, where he became the longest serving European captain in NHL history, and gave special thanks to the Maple Leafs organisation. "Toronto is and will always be my second home," Sundin said. One of Sweden's key players in the 2006 Turin Olympics, where Sweden beat Finland in the final, he recently ruled out playing for Sweden in next year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Sundin singled out winning Olympic gold along with playing in the NHL play-offs as the highlights of his career.
"It was a special experience," Sundin said. "The NHL? All play-off games and reaching the semi-finals twice." Sundin, an eight-time NHL All Star, is first among Swedish players with 564 goals, 785 assists and 1,349 points in the NHL. However, Sundin, the first European to be drafted first overall in the NHL, never won a Stanley Cup during his long career. "It would have been fun, but I've experienced so much," he said. Sundin also won three IIHF World Championship titles with Sweden in 1991, 1992 and 1998.