By all accounts, it appears Bob Gainey laid down his final sales pitch to Mats Sundin in Toronto over the weekend, and with that pitch, some semblance of a deadline appears to have been set for the big Swede to make up his mind.
Barry told the Globe and Mail's Tim Wharnsby that Gainey would like an answer "quite soon," which at least confirms that he is not willing to enter the season with all that cap room to spare.
Barry's description of Gainey's pitch as being an "excellent case for why Mats should play in Montreal" may or may not indicate which way his client is leaning. But one thing that has become abundantly clear throughout this Summer of Mats is that this guy does not like deadlines, and he does not make decisions on anyone else's schedule.
In my eyes, seeing as the guy has already come out and said he probably won't make a decision before the start of the season, Sundin is not likely to be in Montreal for physicals on Sept. 19.
Barry's quote in the Globe also indicates that Gainey has other irons in the fire, and every day that goes by without a decision from Sundin is a day where another team can swoop in and grab that player Gainey is waiting to acquire. The big threat here, in my opinion, is the Vancouver Canucks.
Sitting on nearly $9 million in available cap space would not look good on new GM Mike Gillis, and though he's stated publicly that he's willing to wait on Sundin, I can't believe he will begin the season with the roster he has now based on the hope that the Swedish saviour will come. I'm not even sure that Sundin is a good fit for the Canucks. Who would he play with? Pavol Demitra and Kyle Wellwood? Would he move over to the wing to play with the Sedins? Is it even worth it for the Canucks to be in this melodrama, considering Sundin is far from the lone piece needed to be considered a legitimate Cup contender?
If Gainey is looking to grab a forward should Sundin remain on the fence too long, he should be proactive and beat the Canucks to the punch. If Gainey's eye is on Mathieu Schneider, the Canucks aren't much of a threat because the blue line is not where their weakness lies, but that certainly is not the case for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The latest entry into the Sundin sweepstakes may also try to grab Schneider from Anaheim because, even with Andrej Meszaros, their defence is very young and could benefit from someone with his experience.
In any case, Gainey was smart to try and speed up Sundin's decision-making process, and at least now he can tell himself he gave it his best shot. But in order to ensure that his alternate plan is still available, Gainey would be best served to act on it sooner rather than later.