Sundin declines invitation to play in worlds

4/12/2007 - NHL Mats Sundin

STOCKHOLM -- Mats Sundin has turned down an invitation to play for Sweden at the world hockey championship in Russia.

"It's sad, but I can understand his decision," coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson said Thursday.

The 36-year-old Sundin, whose Toronto Maple Leafs missed the NHL playoffs, was one of the key players on Sweden's team last year when it won the Olympic gold medal.

Alex Steen of the Leafs is the only NHL player who has accepted an invitation to play for Sweden so far, but several others are expected to join the squad.

Before the world tournament, Sweden will play Russia in a home-and-home series on April 19 and 21 for the European Hockey Tour title and a warmup against the United States in Stockholm on April 25.