VANCOUVER – Henrik Sedin, the soft-spoken Swede who leads by example, was named the 13th captain of the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
Orland Kurtenbach, captain of the first Canuck team to play in the NHL, presented Sedin with the sweater with the “C” minutes before the puck dropped on the club’s 40th year in the league.
Sedin is the second Swede after Markus Naslund to be named captain of the Canucks. Both are from the paper mill town of Ornskoldsvik.
He succeeds goaltender Roberto Luongo, who assumed the role two years ago when general manager Mike Gillis said the club’s best player should be its captain.
“Henrik Sedin embodies the principles of this organization and all of the qualities of a leader through his honesty, integrity and discipline,” Gillis said in a statement.
“Henrik is an exemplary leader who inspires his teammates with a work ethic and desire to continually evolve his game.”
Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler and newcomer Manny Malhotra were named alternate captains.
Henrik Sedin’s selection follows a season where he won the Hart trophy as most valuable player and the Art Ross trophy with 29 goals and 112 points as its scoring champion.
The milestones were reached despite linemate and equally-talented identical twin brother Daniel missing 19 games due to injury.
Former Canuck Willie Mitchell, in town with Saturday’s opposition Los Angeles Kings, described Henrik Sedin as a quiet, dedicated teammate before the game.
“He’s not a rah-rah guy but he prepares really well … really dedicated and he’s a great teammate,” said Mitchell.
“There’s not many star players in the game that are that easy going and not really demanding of things. He just kind of plays hockey and goes about his business.”
Henrik Sedin, in his 10th season after being selected third—one spot behind Daniel—in the 1999 draft, became the Canucks’ highest-scoring centre last season with 572 regular-season points, 21 more than fellow Swede Thomas Gradin.
His 83 assists surpassed his own the club record of 71 and his career assist total of 434 is also a club record, topping Trevor Linden’s 415.
Coach Alain Vigneault said before the announcement that he and Gillis met several times to discuss the captaincy Luongo relinquished in September.
“In our minds we had quite a few guys that had great leadership skills and could possibly hold that position but we felt that one guy stood out,” Vigneault said.
Naming Luongo captain was a controversial move as the NHL did not want a goalie captain leaving his crease during games to discuss referees’ decisions.
A rule dating back to the 1940s forbade goalies from wearing the captain’s “C” on their sweater so Luongo wore it on his mask and alternates talked to game officials.
That still left Luongo to deal with other captaincy issues—like dealing with the media—which were said to be a distraction. He refused game-day interviews during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Luongo is in the first year of a US$64-million, 12-year contract and he’s looking to improve on his last campaign.
Last year he won 40 games but had his highest goals-against average of 2.57 since arriving here in 2006 and the lowest save percentage of .913 since his rookie season with the New York Islanders.
Notes: Naslund and Stan Smyl both served eight seasons as Canucks captain, the longest tenure of any player in that role. Smyl’s No. 12 hangs from the Rogers Arena rafters and Naslund’s No. 19 is due to be retired in December.