You couldn’t have drawn it up any better. I’m not talking about Daniel and Henrik’s last three games in the NHL, but rather their story.
Thomas Gradin completely changed the Vancouver Canucks in 1999. Without Gradin, Henrik and Daniel could’ve very well ended up on separate teams, with neither of them being Vancouver. He urged then-Canucks general manager Brian Burke to give one more look at the twins after a poor showing at the World Juniors. Listening to his Swedish scout, it was at the World Championships where Burke’s impressions were thoroughly reversed.
Burke managed to pull off a sequence of deals which will never be replicated. And with that, the twins were Canucks. They didn’t have the easiest road to stardom, though there’s no need to relive the struggles they faced in their first few years.
At times this season, the debates about whether or not to re-sign the two were intense. At one end of the spectrum, people coveted their leadership and mentorship abilities, and they swooned at the idea of the twins being able to cross paths with the likes of Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen. At the other and perhaps more critical end, some said they were too old, too slow, and “not doing anything but slowing down the rebuild.” After the events that took place over the last week, I hope those individuals were able to put their focus on the future aside and celebrate the Sedins.
Daniel and Henrik’s legacy goes far beyond their almost identical career 0.80 points-per-game average and the NHL awards they won. When times got tough, the twins got going. They faced the media after dreadful losses, answered questions about how bad the team is, countered league-wide criticism with their patented Sedinery, and remained loyal to the city of Vancouver.
They took beatings, both verbally and physically, throughout their careers. People called them soft because of their lack of retaliation but, in fact, it spoke to how strong they were. We never got the sense that they were beaten down, nor was there ever a boiling point that caused people to think “this has to be it.”
Professionalism is the only way to describe the Sedins’ careers in their entirety. Teammates spoke about how, regardless of how the team was playing, they came to the rink with a smile on their faces. Players around the league, whether they be former teammates or not, had only glowing things to say about not just the players they were, but the people they are.
The character they displayed on a daily basis at the rink carried out into the community. When the Sedins first announced their retirement, waves of stories came out about how they went out of their ways to make someone else’s day. It was the simple things they did that, when accumulated, spoke volumes to their intrinsic character. They were just lovely people who understood that a small gesture could hold significant meaning.
Their retirement announcement couldn’t have been timed more perfectly. Both said they knew in November that this was likely to be their final year, yet we were led to believe that they’d make their decision in the off-season. Call it misleading if you want, but that shows just how much they didn’t want the attention.
Should they have made their announcement prior to the start of the season, they would’ve received a slow and steady celebration that gained momentum as it came closer and closer to the end. If they had done it at season’s end, there would be a sense of incompleteness. What the Canucks media staff planned was perfect. As the news became public with less than one week left in the season, the Sedin hype train accelerated hard and fast.
Their remarkable story was reiterated countlessly in the tribute videos and articles released in the following days.
Two identical twin brothers were drafted by the same team back-to-back, and both went on to have exceptional careers playing alongside each other the entire way. One was the passer, the other was the shooter. Together, they created plays that weren’t even imaginable. They exemplified twin telepathy on the ice, being able to sense where each other was without even looking. The twins were able to make teams look foolish with what would eventually be coined Sedinery. Henrik won the league scoring title and Hart Trophy in 2011, then Daniel followed suit and won the scoring title and Ted Lindsay Award in 2012. They are the only pair of brothers in NHL history to win the Art Ross Trophy in consecutive years. Both achieved the 1,000-game milestone, as well as the outstanding 1,000-point achievement. They are also the only pair of brothers in NHL history to each score 1,000 career points. Together, the twins combined for 2,111 points in 2,636 games.
Their legacy is one that will never be repeated. Daniel and Henrik were a one-of-a-kind story, and the public finally began to recognize this in their final games.
On April 5th, the last home game of their careers, Rogers Arena was electric. From warm-up to their final solute, the crowd was in a frenzy in the game’s entirety. They created an atmosphere which could only be compared to the likes of Kevin Bieksa’s stanchion goal, Alex Burrows slaying the dragon, and Sidney Crosby’s golden goal. The difference? There was nothing at stake. Regardless of the outcome, the Sedins came out as the winners at the end of the night. Each time they touched the puck, every time they stepped onto the ice, and every time they were shown on the jumbotron, Rogers Arena couldn’t help but cheer for the twins. Sedinery was in full swing, and it led to Daniel’s first goal assisted by Henrik and Alex Edler. Nobody in the arena was silent. Per Henrik’s wish when he was approaching his 1,000th point, the Viking Clap emerged not once, not twice, but three times in the third period. The team was clearly feeding off the energy in the arena, playing some of the most exciting hockey we’ve seen in the past few seasons. The twins showed flashes of their Sedinery throughout the game, but none were more important than the cycle that led to Daniel’s goal in overtime. It was a fairytale ending to their final game on home ice.
Adding to the excitement was the stunning, and albeit slightly spooky, numerology that transpired. Daniel’s first goal was his 22nd of the year, assisted by #23 and #33 at 0:33 in the second period. That’s not all. Daniel’s second goal – the OT winner – was his 23rd of the year assisted by #33 and #23 at 2:33 in overtime, or 22:33 since the start of the third period. Nope, not done yet. Vancouver won the face-off battle 33-22. The numerology in itself was an incredible addition to the already exceptional ending to the game.
On Saturday, the Sedins would play the final game of their careers in Edmonton. Concerning its excitement level, it couldn’t be compared to Thursday’s game. Thursday was unbelievable. By no means does that take away from the performance put on not only by the Sedins but by the Edmonton Oilers organization.
Pure class is the only way I could describe how the Oilers treated the Daniel and Henrik. They produced their own tribute video for the twins, and fans certainly weren’t shy about showing their support and appreciation. Oilers owner Daryl Katz invited the Sedin families into his private suite to watch the game. Travis Green, in a gesture unheard of and likely never before seen, brought their families onto the bench for overtime and the shootout. Just like Thursday’s game, there was nothing on the line. The twins could have fun without consequences. Sedinery was on full blast in the last minute of overtime, but unfortunately, it didn’t turn into a game-winning goal.
To start the shootout, Green summoned the Sedin children and appeared to ask Henrik’s older son if he should put his dad and uncle in the shootout. Out came Daniel as the first shooter and, as he’s done throughout his entire career, he scored. The reactions of Henrik and the kids on the bench were priceless. Next came Henrik and, staying true to his shootout record, wasn’t able to score. He and the children were still smiling because, at the end of the day, it was all for fun.
The Sedins’ careers came to an end with a shootout loss, but that didn’t stop the celebration. The Oilers were waiting on the blueline to congratulate the two, who were in the midst of hugging their own teammates. Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Connor McDavid, and Mike Cammalleri were among the players to have more extended embraces with the Sedins. Then came the emotions. As they headed off the ice, Daniel and Henrik embraced their children and triggered heavy emotions in fans watching from their homes. During the three-stars announcement, Daniel and Henrik were named the second and third star, respectively. With the lights dimmed and spotlights solely focused on the two, the twins soluted the crowd for a lengthy amount of time.
In the words of many noteworthy media personalities, the Sedins are going to be first-ballot Hall of Famers. The events that occurred this week brought to light their on and off-ice accomplishments, something that should’ve received more coverage prior to their retirement announcement. They’re terrific hockey players who are even better people. People will bring up their lack of a Stanley Cup but, honestly, that’s such a small aspect of their greater story. One’s success as a hockey player isn’t determined by whether or not they have a Stanley Cup.
The Sedins went out on a high note – on their own terms. They weren’t forced out of the league and they weren’t not offered contract extensions. They very well could’ve come back next season and likely been among the team’s top producers, but that’s not what they wanted. They wanted to be with their families. When you add up the amount of time they spent on the road with the team, they’ve missed years of their children’s lives.
Seeing them hand an emotional Derek Dorsett the puck from their final game showed their class until literally the very end. Watching three different teams line up to shake their hands is a testament to how respected they are throughout the league. Reading the mass flood of stories that came out about the twins reinforced their character to a staggering degree. Watching Daniel and Henrik embrace their children is the only proof you need to know that they’ve made the right decision to hang up the skates.
It was one heck of a moment that put the icing on the cake of their highly successful NHL careers.