We really should have seen this more times than we actually have by this point of their careers.
There are many people who have felt the collateral damage stemming from the NHL lockout. The thing about this entire process is that it doesn’t pick and choose who it leaves in its wake. Players who have essentially been left without a job. Arena workers and employees who have literally been left without a job. Writers who can only write so many times about the AHL, and prospects. And the fans, who just want to watch some professional hockey.
But another casualty that may not necessarily be in the forefront is the bigger picture for certain players. I’m specifically referring to the legacies that they leave behind as professional athletes; how will they be remembered, years after their playing days have come to an end? There’s many things that factor into this, including word of mouth (the memories people have of watching them in their primes, that are passed down to younger generations), hardware accumulated (which encompasses both individual and team accomplishments), and statistics that allow them to put their own personal stamp into the record books.
What we generally fail to consider is how short a time frame they have to get all of that done, at least relatively speaking. According to recent studies, the average length of career for an NHL player is 5.5 years, which is an insanely low figure.
And that’s why missing two full years – in 2004-05, and potentially this current one – is substantial. There are numerous great players around the league whose legacies will have conceivably been altered due to the two seasons that they never got a chance to perform in. Two of those guys just so happen to play in Vancouver.
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I have to give credit to James O’Brien, who really provoked this entire thought process when he tweeted the following question recently:
Ironically enough, one of the most prominent answers lies in James’ Twitter handle. Despite the name and picture, James isn’t actually a Canucks blogger, nor is he a fan of the team. He’s a writer for NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk, and the name is just an ode to his old blog. But he’s a good guy, regardless, and you should be following him.
It’s tough to say with any sort of precision what kind of affect the two missed seasons have had on their point totals, given the places in their careers that both of the lockouts struck at. While they have been as consistent as it gets throughout their peak years, both of the missed seasons have come on either periphery of their collective apex.
As a disclaimer, I will be referring to the currently locked out season as one that is "lost". I still do believe that some sort of shortened season will be salvaged by the Holidays, but for the sake of brevity and hypotheticals, I am going under the assumption that no games will be played. At least in this post.
In 2003-04, Henrik registered 42 points, while Daniel totalled 54. With the NHL locked out, they went back to Sweden to play for their hometown team, Modo. If you’ll recall, the season following the lockout was a ‘changing of the guard’ type of season for the Vancouver Canucks organization, as the Sedins began to emerge as legitimate offensive forces while the West Coast Express began to come to a halt.
There was a considerable jump in production for the twins from ’03 to ’05, but given where they were in the natural progression of their careers, I think that it’s fair to assume that they would have been hovering around the 60-point mark in that lost season.
Fast-forward to present day, where there has been much discussion on this site about what we can expect from the Sedins in the coming years. I’m on the record in saying that I think we’ve already seen their best seasons, and Cam Charron agrees with me. Thomas Drance, being the affable contrarion that he is, disagrees. The beauty of the argument is that there’s no right answer at the moment; we’ll have to let it play out over time, to see what happens.
Regardless, I still think a reasonably conservative projection for them in a full 2012-13 season would have been in the 75-79 range. I would personally have expected something similar to what they combined for in ’07-’08. A step down, perhaps, but still amongst the league leaders.
The difficulty with projecting those two lost seasons is that we’re assuming that they would have played two entirely healthy seasons, without missing any significant time. And that’s something we can’t just take for granted. But if anyone’s capable of it, it’s the Sedins. Other than a recently discovered susceptibility to flying, blindside elbows, they have seemed indestructible over the years.
So let’s just assume that they managed to get through both seasons unscathed. That means that we could tack on somewhere around 140 extra points to the totals they currently sit at. Which brings us back to the original question this article sought to answer: how have the two lockouts influenced the Sedins’ careers, in the big picture? And beyond that, has it affected their chance at a potential induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame?
Hall of Fame Bound?
Will the Sedins be honoured in this fashion one day?.
Even with the way things currently stand, their place in the franchise’s record books shouldn’t technically be affected. They’ll still – knock on wood – finish 1-2 in points and assists, and Daniel Sedin will still one day top Markus Naslund’s 346 goals.
For me, the more interesting thing is their place amongst the game’s very best. I think the fact that it’s even a discussion is a testament to the sheer brilliance that they have been able to sustain. With the additional points tacked on, Henrik would be at 887 career points, with Daniel just behind him at a measly 858. That would put them just outside of the Top 100 of all-time; in that territory are Petr Bondra, Peter Forsberg, and former Canucks Cliff Ronning and Trevor Linden. I’ve heard of all of those guys.
It would also make them nearly mortal locks to crack the 1,000 barrier eventually. They still very well may, but it’s not a given. Obviously that specific point total is an arbitrary endpoint, but it bears pointing out that only 79 players have ever reached it, so it’s quite the accomplishment (not that finishing your career at 999 points resembles some sort of disappointment, or anything). 65 of those 79 are eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame, with 49 of them already inducted. And guys such as Mike Modano, Jaromir Jagr, Teemu Selanne and Nicklas Lidstrom will surely get in when their time comes.
It also should be noted that winners of the Art Ross Trophy – awarded to the player with the most points in a given season, which the Sedins took home in back-to-back seasons – have had a pretty good go of it when it comes to making it into the Hall. The only players that have won the award without making it in are the ones that are still active: Jarome Iginla, Martin St.Louis, Joe Thornton, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and both Sedins. There seems to be a pretty strong correlation between the two. But still, it’s a chicken and egg situation. One illustrious season does not make a Hall of Fame bid.
Will the Sedins get a blazer and a ring one day? There’s still quite a few chapters to be written in their careers, and obviously the way they are perceived by the general public may be changed by then. Right now, though, the opinion on just how special they’ve been seems to be divided.
As of right now, there is an undeserving stigma that they carry around; that they’re "soft", and they’ve never won the ‘big one’. Why let facts such as their Olympic Gold Medal, and the mere 60 minutes that separated them from Lord Stanley get in the way of your irrational distaste for them?
I asked 5 Canucks fans – who are as far removed from being homers of the team as is possible – about their eventual candidacy, and every one of them looked at me like I was being silly. "What kind of question is that? Of course they’ll get in" was the gist of the response. I then went on to poll 5 people whose opinions I respect, that happen to be followers of teams that don’t employ the Swedish twins, and 3 of them claimed that they weren’t all that sold on the notion.
People will likely continue to be divided on their opinion of them till the very end, but there’s two ways in which they can force their way into the HHOF. The first is by finally bringing the
Presidents’ Trophy Stanley Cup to Vancouver. The odds of that will unfortunately dip if this season is scrapped; given their current construction, the Canucks are on the short list of genuine contenders if a season is to be played. The second way will be by sheer volume of production, which they still may be able to accomplish.
But boy, whose to say that another Duncan Keith ‘finisher’ isn’t looming just around the corner? With such a short shelf life a professional hockey player can’t take any years for granted, and that’s why potentially losing two seasons really stings in the grand scheme of things.