Mats Sundin (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
It's Friday the 13th, so walk your black cat under a ladder and join us for a breakdown of two exceptional players who have worn the number with honor. Does the 'Bromma Bull' take the crown, or do you prefer your dekes to be Datsyukian?
It's Friday the 13th, which got us pondering that mystical number. For some, it is bad luck. But many hockey players have worn No. 13 in their careers and the two best who are associated with it (Teemu Selanne's banners go with No. 8) are Mats Sundin and Pavel Datsyuk. Two incredible talents, but which one is the best of all-time? Let's break this thing down.
Sundin: The first European player ever to be drafted first overall in the NHL when Quebec took the Swede in 1989. Four more have followed since: Roman Hamrlik, Patrik Stefan, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin. So Sundin gets some trailblazer status on this one.
Datsyuk: Taken with the 171st overall pick by Detroit in 1998, Datsyuk is now the third-highest scorer from his draft class, behind only first overall pick Vincent Lecavalier and early third-rounder Brad Richards. Datysuk is the go-to example for why scouting is important, why Detroit (which also got Zetterberg, Ericsson, Nyquist and Pulkkinen late) hasn't missed the playoffs in more than two decades, and the axiom of "it's not what number you're drafted, it's what you do after you're drafted."
Sundin: Two-time second-team all-star
Datysuk: One-time second-team all-star, four Lady Byngs, three Selke trophies.
Sundin: Career points-per-game average of 1.00 in the regular season and 0.90 in the playoffs. Best season ever was a 114-point campaign with the Nordiques in his third NHL season.
Datsyuk: Career points-per-game average of 0.98 in the regular season and 0.74 in the playoffs. Best season ever was a 97-point campaign that ended with a Red Wings Stanley Cup in 2007-08.
Degree of Difficulty
Sundin: Often played with wingers who were either below his elite status or just entering the twilights of their careers.
Datsyuk: Just can't stay healthy. Datsyuk will actually make his season debut tonight against San Jose after missing the opening month and a bit due to ankle surgery. He has played 82 games just once in his NHL career due to a variety of ailments.
Advantage: Sundin – he was a center, not a GM.
Olympic gold medals
Advantage: Sundin. We could also count World Championship golds (both players have them), but that's not a best-on-best tournament. And, if you're vying for it, you have failed in your initial goal of winning the Stanley Cup. Sorry, Europe.
Sundin: One of the most devastating backhands the game has ever seen:
Datysuk: The 'Datysukian Deke:'
Advantage: Datysuk. There are literally tutorials online on how to do his moves.
It's tight, but Datsyuk wins. Sundin is already in the Hall of Fame, but does anybody doubt that Datsyuk will get in once he is eligible? Plus, he still has time to add to his legacy, beginning tonight against San Jose.