Photo Credit: Kanny Karst/USA TODAY Sports
Long after the final buzzer on Saturday night and after waves
of questions about the game, the many disappointments of the past six months and
the outlook for the future, Canucks captain Henrik Sedin was pressed on the
injuries that so obviously slowed him over the second half of the just
completed season. While refusing to get into specifics about the nature of the
injury – or injuries — Sedin was willing to discuss how the various maladies slowed
not only himself, but his brother and as a result the entire team over the final
from when it happened before Christmas up until the All Star break, it wasn’t
great,” Henrik says about the limitations on his 35-year-old body. “It wasn’t
one hundred percent. I tried to play through it as best as I could. I think it
made Daniel’s spot maybe a little bit worse, too, during the stretch because
when one of us is not playing up to his potential it’s going to make it tough
on the other one too.”
injury problems began in mid-December when he left a game in Philadelphia after
playing just nine shifts and 5:08. He sat out the next two games in Detroit and
Florida before returning to the line-up in Tampa Bay on December 22nd.
The surest sign that things weren’t well came in a bizarre Boxing Day game
against Edmonton when, although he played 20:11 and picked up an assist, Henrik
could not sit on the Canucks bench between shifts and stood awkwardly the
entire game in an effort to ease his obvious discomfort.
he remained in the line-up, Henrik managed to produce just two points in the
six games after Christmas and clearly wasn’t himself. On January 17th,
he was once again forced out of the Canucks line-up after being on the receiving
end of a dangerous looking hit from Mikhail Grabovski early in a game against
the New York Islanders at Barclays Center. That forced Henrik to miss four more
games and he remained out of action for the remainder of the month.
tried to provide the leadership expected of a captain, Henrik had little to
offer the Canucks in his return to the line-up for the stretch drive. Without
the ability to battle or compete at the level needed to perform at his best, Sedin
couldn’t do much to pull the Canucks out of an early February tailspin which
sealed the team’s fate. Even with their top set-up man in the line-up, the
Canucks managed just two wins in the first eight games out of the All-Star
“We go through tough spots
throughout the years and we try to play through them and for the most part we
can,” he said. “That injury, I was able to skate no problem, but getting into
battles and face-offs weren’t great through that part either. There was a
stretch where I wasn’t a hundred percent, but you’re not going to be a hundred
percent every game.”
Henrik missed two more games in
early March after taking a hard hit from Brent Burns early in a March 5th
game in San Jose. In all, Sedin missed
eight games on the season and was forced out of three others. He finished the
year with a modest 11 goals and 55
points in the 74 games he played (9+28=37 in 44 games before the All-Star break and 2+16=18 over the final 30 contests). While there were still flashes of the brilliance
that made Henrik one of the best playmakers in the league over the past decade,
there were too many lengthy stretches where he simply had no impact on games.
As he spoke about his injuries,
Henrik admitted his offensive struggles in the final month of the season had
less to do with physical limitations and far more to do with the mental baggage
that comes with a season spiraling out of control.
“After the All-Star break those
injuries have not been in a problem,” he insisted. “We tried to hang on to a
playoff spot and tried to be in the fight for a long time, but when that didn’t
happen it was more of an emotional thing. The last 10 or 15 games have been
tough and you can look at our point production and it’s not where it should be.
It’s tough to get up for games and do all the things 110% when the playoffs
aren’t in the picture.”
Henrik confessed that with
nothing to play for over the final month and with a body that had taken a
pounding throughout the season, it was difficult to lay it all on the line in
games that meant absolutely nothing in the standings. While he wanted to set
the best example possible for the youth movement the Canucks are fostering, he
had trouble convincing himself at times to get to the high-traffic areas of the
ice. As a result, Henrik spent much of the final month of the season as a perimeter
player – and it showed.
“We take pride in preparing the right way for
every game — that hasn’t been the problem,” he said. “But when you get into
those scoring areas, if you don’t put 110% effort there, it’s tough to score in
this league and I think that’s been a problem for us down the stretch.”
The only upside to a long off-season
for the Vancouver Canucks is that players have ample time to heal their wounds.
Bumps and bruises will eventually go away. What remains to be seen is what sort
of mental scars a disastrous season like this one has left on the hockey club.