Updated: Wednesday, 30 Sep 2009, 10:41 AM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 30 Sep 2009, 10:40 AM EDT
Stockholm (AP) - Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin is retiring from hockey after nearly two decades in the NHL.
"It was a tough decision," Sundin said at a news conference at Stockholm's Grand Hotel on Wednesday. "It's sad to tell you today that my career as a pro hockey player is over."
The 38-year-old Swede, who said he reached the decision this fall, played for the Vancouver Canucks last season after spending most of his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He spent 13 seasons with Toronto, becoming the longest serving European captain in NHL history, and he gave special thanks to the Maple Leafs organization.
"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 his home country in next year's Olympics in Vancouver.
Sundin singled out winning Olympic gold along with playing in the NHL playoffs as the highlights of his career.
"It was a special experience," Sundin said. "All the NHL playoff games and reaching the semifinals twice."
Sundin, an eight-time NHL All Star, is first all-time among Swedish players with 564 goals, 785 assists and 1,349 points.
Sundin, the first European to be taken with the top pick in the NHL draft, never won a Stanley Cup during his long career.
"It would have been fun, but I've experienced so much," he said.
Known as "Sudden" in Sweden, Sundin also won three IIHF World Championship titles with Sweden in 1991, '92 and '98.
In 1990, Sundin became the first European to be selected first in the NHL draft and he joined the league with the Quebec Nordiques the following year.
After nine months on the sidelines, Sundin signed with Vancouver as a free agent in December last year and made his debut with the Canucks in January against the Edmonton Oilers.
Toronto's career scoring leader, Sundin plans to return to Sweden with wife this year.
"I don't know if I'll be involved in hockey in the future," he said. "But I will always have a close relationship with hockey. My love for hockey will always be there."
Sundin also played in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics where he was won the goal-scoring and points titles and made the All-Star team.
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