Class. Integrity. Humility. Sublime skill. These are just a few of the traits that defined Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin throughout their careers with the Vancouver Canucks. On Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, the Vancouver Canucks retired the Sedins’ jerseys and raised them to the rafters. Many of their former teammates were on hand, including Roberto Luongo, Kevin Bieksa, and the enigmatic Ryan Kesler. All spoke highly of them. Throughout their career, the Sedins were exemplary citizens and hockey players. They got it right, both as players and as people.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin Legacy Shines Bright
The Sedins’ brilliant careers with the Vancouver Canucks nearly failed to come to pass. The brothers knew from a very early age that their greatest likelihood of success was playing together. To a large extent, their synergy resulted from playing on the same line since the age of 12. In their view, all that time together gave them a decided advantage.
Draft Day Drama
That inseparability also led to a certain amount of draft-day drama. Prior to the draft, they made clear to all teams that they would only go to a team that drafted them both together. Since they each possessed elite skill, this represented a conundrum for NHL general managers.
Eventually, Vancouver Canucks general manager Brian Burke stepped up with some wizardry of his own, making three trades to ensure Vancouver landed both brothers. First, he dealt talented NHL defenceman Bryan McCabe and a 1st round pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, to the Chicago Blackhawks for the 4th overall pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. Burke then shipped that 4th overall pick and two third round picks to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 1st overall pick. His final move was sending that 1st overall pick to the Atlanta Thrashers, who had other draft plans besides the Sedins. In doing so, Burke secured the 2nd and 3rd picks overall in the 1999 draft. Because of Burke’s tenacity, the Canucks were able to select one of the most successful brother combinations in NHL history.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin Had Brilliant On-Ice Careers
In keeping with their fate as identical twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin compiled astonishingly similar numbers over the course of their careers. Daniel Sedin played 1,306 games in the NHL. During that time, he scored 393 goals, 648 assists and 1,041 points, averaging nearly .080 points per game. Henrik Sedin played 1,330 games in NHL, scoring 240 goals and adding 830 assists for a total of 1,070 points. Both players also drove puck possession throughout their careers, averaging a CF% of 55 and 54.5 respectively.
The Sedins exhibited artistry and creativity like few others before them in the league. They operated telepathically, with each constantly aware of the location of the other. In particular, Daniel and Henrik were lethal in the cycle game. They would frequently hoard the puck against the boards until the opportune moment struck to create a scoring chance in front of the net. Their style of play extended the Canucks’ time in the offensive zone, prolonging the torture for opposing fans.
Their brilliance wasn’t just confined to themselves. They made their teammates better. Much like their fellow Swede, Toronto Maple Leafs’ great Mats Sundin, the Sedins often succeeded regardless of who their wingman was, lifting the fortunate third wheel to greater heights. Alex Burrows had several career years playing with Daniel and Henrik, a feat he never came close to replicating in their absence.
On and off the ice, the Sedins were model people. If you want evidence, look no further than their retirement ceremony this past week. During the ceremony, teammate after teammate took turns speaking and extolling their virtues. The Sedins also had the admiration of opposing players around the league. This partly arose from the fact that they consistently showed respect for opponents on the ice, refusing to respond in kind when players engaged in dirty play, or attacked their perceived lack of toughness.
Their kindness also extended to the community in Vancouver. Children have always been at the forefront of their efforts. In 2010, they donated $1.5 million to the BC Children’s Hospital. Recently, they announced that their Sedin Family Foundation had entered a partnership with the Canucks For Kids Fund. Through this relationship, they hope to further help address children’s needs throughout the city.
Perhaps the only real failure the Sedins had on the ice was their inability to deliver a Stanley Cup to the city of Vancouver. Their best chance came during the 2010-11 season. That year, the Canucks had entered the playoffs as Stanley Cup favourites. Along with the rest of the team, who were bruised and battered by the big, bad Boston Bruins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin were unable to deliver their trademark magic at key points during the Stanley Cup Final. Henrik mustered just one point in the seven games, while Daniel produced better with a goal and three assists.
Yet it remains true that in substantial part due to their talents, the Canucks were one game from achieving a championship, something that has proven impossible for any top level sports team in the city of Vancouver.
On balance, it is difficult to view their careers with anything other than respect and reverence. Their achievements on the ice were substantial. Their talents elevated the Vancouver Canucks to the top of the league for several years. Without a doubt, they should get consideration for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Their legacy as human beings is arguably even more impressive. Their hockey success is rivaled only by their humanity. In the turbulent, self absorbed times we live in, their kindness, generosity and humility provide a badly needed example. They are a continued reminder of the capacity for human beings to lift up those around them.
It seems nice guys don’t finish last, after all.