Henrik and Daniel Sedin are hanging up their skates. The Vancouver Canucks icons penned a letter today, thanking the city and its fans for the support that the Swedish twins received over 18 years with the franchise. That they are retiring is no surprise. That they are doing so with their trademark class and integrity was also a given.
So let’s look back at two of the most unique careers in hockey history, because we will likely never see players like the Sedins again; twins who seemed to know exactly where the other one was at all times on the ice, with chemistry to match.
In an era of permissive free agency and rebuilds, the Sedins will retire having played their entire NHL careers with the Canucks. It’s a rarity for a player to be a one-franchise guy these days. Thanks to their incredible hockey sense and cycling ability, the Sedins helped Vancouver to one of the franchise’s finest campaigns ever in 2010-11, falling in seven games to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final. On an individual basis, they scooped up accolades throughout their careers.
Henrik, the center, won the Art Ross and Hart trophies in 2010 and was a first-team all-star twice. He also won the King Clancy Trophy in 2016 for his leadership and humanitarian efforts. Daniel, the left winger, won the Art Ross one year after his brother and the Ted Lindsay Award as the MVP as chosen by the players. That he lost the Hart to Anaheim’s Corey Perry (voted on by the media) was controversial. Daniel was a first-team all-star once and a second-team all-star once. Both brothers won Sweden’s Viking Award as the country’s top player and both won gold at the Olympics and World Championship. The Sedins are first-ballot Hall of Famers, full stop.
But why stop there? Their charity work (including $1.5 million to help build a new children’s hospital in British Columbia) was a big part of their personalities and their dedication to Vancouver was obvious. While the Canucks have slid down the pole in the NHL in the years since that run to the Cup final, the Sedins maintained that they wanted to be wearing the Canucks’ uniform.
In retiring, they note that they are happy with how coach Travis Green has the team playing and that they believe it’s time for the next generation to take over. The fact that the Sedins spent time on the same roster as Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser (and, at least for a game or two, Thatcher Demko) was great for the youngsters and with more reinforcements coming, the Canucks will rise in the future. Elias Pettersson, Olli Juolevi, Adam Gaudette, Jonathan Dahlen, Kole Lind and others all represent hope. With so many of those youngsters being forwards, it was already clear that the Sedins could not be top-six forwards anymore and that would have been even more apparent next season.
But they leave as titans. Here’s a quick and incomplete list of club records held by either Henrik or Daniel: Games played, goals, assists, points, power play goals, game-winning goals, shots, and goals, assists and points adjusted for era. Yes, it was time for them to leave, but it’s also bittersweet to see them go.
My pet theory had always been that once the Sedins were done in Vancouver, they would sign on to play one more year or two with MoDo, the Swedish team they grew up with in Ornskoldsvik, the legendary hockey town that also produced Markus Naslund, Peter Forsberg and Victor Hedman. From their letter, it doesn’t seem like that’s the case: the brothers are going to do normal dad and husband stuff, which they have definitely earned the right to do.
I’m sure there will be banner raisings in Vancouver soon, because no Canuck needs to wear No. 33 or No. 22 again.
The Canucks have two more home games remaining, plus the season finale in Edmonton. No doubt there will be a lot of tears in Vancouver and a lot of respect from the Oilers faithful during those contests. It’s been an incredible ride since the two were picked second and third overall in the 1999 draft and their letter really puts it all in perspective.