TORONTO (CP) - He's said it before, and he'll say it again.
"If the organization wanted to move me, you have no real choice but, if it's up to me, I do want to stay as a Maple Leaf the rest of my career," captain Mats Sundin said after Toronto's first on-ice workouts of their NHL training camp Friday.
The topic arose during a media scrum because Sundin sold his posh home during the off-season, and because he's entering the last year - at US$7.6 million - of his contract.
The team has a $4.6-million option for 2007-2008 but it's likely both camps will start talking about an extension sometime this season.
"I don't have a desire to go anywhere else to be part of a championship team," he said. "We have just as good a chance to be a championship team right here as anyone else.
"I can't see myself trying to go to a contender at the end of the season just to be part of a championship. Any of the 16 teams that makes the playoffs has as good a chance as anyone else."
The Edmonton Oilers proved that after squeaking into the post-season on the schedule's last weekend last spring. Parity propelled by the salary cap levels the playing field.
"It's tougher and tougher to predict," said Sundin. "Before, you could tell who were going to be the top teams in the league.
"This year, it's impossible. I think we have as good a chance as any of the other teams. Our first focus has to make the playoffs. It's going to be very important for us to get off to a good start."
The six-foot-five centre earned 78 points and scored 31 goals last season. He played his best hockey after leading Sweden to Olympic gold.
"Having success with the Leafs in the playoffs is the ultimate goal," he said. "That in itself is a carrot that you're looking forward to and it helps you train."
While being bitterly disappointed to miss the playoffs last spring, he said there was a positive element to the club's strong finish.
"We had almost as many points as Edmonton had when they started their playoff run, and they went to the final. It was encouraging to see a lot of the younger players come in during the last 20 games and play well. That gave a brighter outlook to the start of this season."