The game will miss Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
The Vancouver Canucks greats announced on Monday they will retire together after the Canucks’ final regular-season game in Edmonton against the Oilers on Saturday.
The game will miss their skill, their shared brain, their short passes, their deflections from the high slot, their dignity and class on-and-off the ice.
The identical 37-year-old twins have been a remarkable story and no doubt deserve to see captain Henrik’s No. 33 and sniper Daniel’s No. 22 retired alongside the other four Vancouver greats to have had the honour: No. 10 Pavel Bure, No. 12 Stan Smyl, No. 16 Trevor Linden and No. 19 Markus Naslund.
Just like their timing was perfect on the ice, their timing was spot-on in making this difficult decision.
The Sedin twins spoke after announcing their decision to retire at the end of the NHL season7:53
“We started the year with the mindset that a decision would be made in the post-season,” the twins wrote in a statement. “But it became clear, after discussions with our families throughout the year, that this will be our last season. This feels right for all of us.”
The Swedish pair were raised in the hockey-mad town of Örnsköldsvik, which has produced a who’s who of talented hockey players such as Anders Hedberg, Thomas Gradin, Tommy Jonsson, Naslund and the great Peter Forsberg.
The Sedins were a big deal, cracking the roster of the local powerhouse, Modo, at 17.
Six months before the 1999 NHL draft, the rest of the hockey world caught a glimpse of how good the twins were when they worked their magic at the world junior tournament in Winnipeg. Sweden finished fourth, but Daniel scored five goals in six games and Henrik checked in with nine points in six games.
In the week leading up to the Winnipeg tournament, Sports Illustrated‘s Michael Farber was out in front of his competition with a memorable piece on the Sedins. What struck me in the article entitled “Mirror, Mirror” was a quote from Gradin, the thoughtful Canucks player-turned-scout.
‘Together they are 100%’
“Together the twins are 100 per cent,” Gradin told Farber. “They’re good enough to play with anyone, but separately their capacity might decrease by 10 or 15 per cent.”
This was evident when the other missed games because of injury, and was especially noticeable at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi when Henrik stayed back in Vancouver to nurse a nagging rib injury.
Without his brother, Daniel played on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Loui Eriksson. Daniel scored only once in six games, in a 5-0 preliminary-round win against Slovakia.
The big question entering the 1999 draft was could a team engineer a move to select both twins or would they — against their wishes — be chosen by different teams?
Then-Canucks general manager Brian Burke got the job done. Through a series of trades with the Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Atlanta Thrashers, Burke lassoed the second overall pick to go with the Canucks’ third-overall choice. He got the twins.
They stayed in Sweden for one final season, but Modo lost in the final.
The Sedins were magic for the Canucks in 17 seasons (they had one season taken away because of the 2004-05 lockout). The high note was when the Canucks advanced to the 2011 Stanley Cup final, though it ended in disappointment when they lost in Games 6 and 7 to the Boston Bruins.
Some have said it’s a shame they never could deliver a Stanley Cup championship to Vancouver, but there is a long list of Hockey Hall of Famers who haven’t hoisted the prized mug.
Henrik Sedin shakes hands with Boston’s Dennis Seidenberg following the Canucks’ 4-0 loss in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final.(Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
The Sedins, however, have been victorious in the Olympics, a gold in 2006 as well as gold in their last world championship together in 2013. They arrived late and played in the final four games that spring, but pulled the home side through for a win in Stockholm.
Henrik was particularly good, scoring four times and nine points to earn a spot on the tournament all-star team. It was sort of the last hurrah for the twins, although Daniel did earn a silver medal in Sochi after a 3-0 loss to Canada in the final.
The Sedins were good mentors to the young Canucks team this season. They say they will remain in Vancouver and it will be interesting to see if they remain in the game in some capacity.
“As we’ve said before, Vancouver has become home,” they wrote. “This is our family’s home. We plan to be part of this community long after we retire. Vancouver has given us so much and we’ve tried to give everything we have in return.
That won’t change.
“In the meantime, we still have some games to play, and we still have some work to do.”
Let’s enjoy the final three acts of this classy pair this week.
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CBC | Sports News