It's not the contract announcement that many hockey fans were expecting from Mats Sundin. Instead of signing with the Canucks or the Maple Leafs or the Islanders, the 37 year-old free agent has inked a deal with Pokerstars to become one of their "international celebrity ambassadors". Mats will be playing on Pokerstars under the name "MatsSundin", and will also be participating in Pokerstars sponsored events, including the European Poker Tour.
As mentioned, Sundin is currently an unrestricted free agent in the NHL, and has drawn interest from multiple teams. The Vancouver Canucks made the biggest splash in an attempt to sign the Swedish star, offering up $20 million dollars for a two-year contract.
Sundin has been unsure as to whether or not he wanted to continue his career in the NHL - the Pokerstars announcement may indicate that his time in the NHL is over. The first European Poker Tour event is the EPT Barcelona, which runs from September 10th until the 14th. After that, there are a number of EPT events that run throughout the year, culminating with the EPT Grand Final that starts in late April of 2009. I would imagine that Pokerstars will ask Sundin to participate in the EPT Scandinavian Open, which takes place in February of 2009. This would obviously create a scheduling conflict, leading me to believe that Sundin is likely done with the NHL (at least for this year).
This signing continues Pokerstars' strategy of inking players that have strong regional fanbases to contracts. Sundin in popular both in Sweden and Canada, which makes this deal a no-brainer for the company.
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