The ceremony honouring the raising of Daniel and Henrik Sedin’s jerseys to the Rogers Arena rafters perfectly encapsulated the twins’ career with the Vancouver Canucks – it was humble, it was gracious, it was genuine.
The Canucks organization earn top marks for putting together a tight, near-seamless 50-minute set that masterfully interspersed the typical humour of such ceremonies with innumerable instances of real sentiment, earnest gratitude, and honest recognition of all the remarkable things Henrik and Daniel accomplished during their time in Vancouver.
It was an evening of endless standout moments, but some bits of magic stood out just a little more than others.
The reception for Ryan Kesler 🔊 pic.twitter.com/QZUujJd6jk
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) February 13, 2020
Heading into Wednesday night, some expressed worries that the event would be marred by fans booing certain invitees – namely Ryan Kesler. However, when Kesler strode onto the ice to calls of “welcome back,” there was nothing of the sort.
After all, it’s pretty much impossible to jeer anyone at a ceremony honouring two of the classiest individuals to ever play the game. Heck, Daniel and Henrik even managed to dissuade attendees from booing the mention of John Tortorella and Willie Desjardins, and that’s saying something.
Lots Of Love For Lu And Linden
The Vancouver Canucks fanbase are supposed to have complicated feelings when it comes to Trevor Linden and Roberto Luongo after both experienced messy departures from the franchise – but it sure didn’t sound like it on Wednesday.
On a night full of exuberant cheer, it really seemed like the loudest ovations were saved for Trev and Lu, who had the fans on their feet before John Shorthouse could even finish his introduction.
— NHL (@NHL) February 13, 2020
As anyone who’s watched their fair share of roasts knows, it’s hard to hit on every joke – and Kevin Bieksa was certainly no exception to that rule on Wednesday evening. While some of his jokes fell flat – “We’ve got a word for that in Sweden…cheating!” – others slayed, and that’s pretty good for a guy who used to make his living punching faces.
Of particular note were Bieksa’s jokes about the twins always being in the “second or third” best shape on the team in training camp, and his bit about speaking through an earpiece to Alex Burrows and Roberto Luongo. Perhaps more impressive, however, were the brief instances in which “Juice” got serious and struck a surprisingly strong emotional chord, further indicating the bright future he has in the Vancouver media market.
Despite all the good feelings that came from a ceremony that literally kicked off with “Feel Good Inc.,” there was some undeniable tension on the ice at Rogers Arena. It’s a further testament to the overwhelming positive nature of the Sedin twins that so many hatchets were buried in their honour, with a handful of individuals seated next to each other at the ceremony that probably wouldn’t share an elevator under different circumstances.
Mike Gillis sat right in between the GM he replaced, Dave Nonis, and the GM who replaced him, Jim Benning.
Players that departed the Canucks under questionable circumstances – Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo, primarily – sat amongst current and former Canucks with no hint of separation or hard feelings. In fact, none of the various retired Sedin teammates on the ice actually finished their careers in Vancouver – but they all looked like Canucks as they sat there watching the twin banners rise.
The Gallery Walk Of Greatness
You can choreograph ceremony. But you can not manufacture emotion, let alone the love that poured out for Daniel and Henrik Sedin for their lives well-lived and careers beautifully played. https://t.co/Nnm0WDAfZA
— Iain MacIntyre (@imacSportsnet) February 13, 2020
Whoever’s idea it was to have Henrik and Daniel enter on a carpet lined with the physical manifestations of their career accomplishments deserves some serious kudos. It’s not something that this author has ever seen in a jersey retirement ceremony, but it was a brilliant touch. A good rule of thumb in show business is “show, don’t tell” – and having the twins walk past the Art Ross, the Hart, and their Olympic medals was far more effective than simply reading those achievements off a cue card.
Best Wishes For Bouwmeester
The Sedin Twins begin their jersey retirement ceremony speech by wishing the best for Jay Bouwmeester. Pure class. pic.twitter.com/dY7lTAWvEu
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 13, 2020
If there was any doubt left that the Sedins represent the absolute best of hockey, they were allayed within a single sentence of their speech. Before they said a single word about themselves, the twins made sure to send their best wishes to Jay Bouwmeester and his family after his scary medical incident from the night prior – and, as always, it came off as genuine concern for a fellow human being.
Dunkin’ On Duncan
For some, it was a bit strange to have the Chicago Blackhawks in the house for Sedin Night, but it soon became clear that the twins chose this opponent for a reason – because all those many playoff battles against the Hawks were some of the best moments of their career.
That didn’t mean that Henrik couldn’t get one last dig in at Duncan Keith, namedropping the long-time Chicago defender in his speech and then pausing to let the “boos” roll in – which is about as close to “trolling” as the Sedins are ever going to get.
Echoes Of Don Taylor
If there’s one thing that the PR wing of the Canucks organization has done well of late, it’s embracing the “meme culture” around the team. When you really think about it, the notion of long-running jokes about the team – and especially long-running puns – goes back to Don Taylor, so it was nice to hear a phrase he coined, “Sedinery,” mentioned so frequently on Wednesday evening.
For the first half of the ceremony, everything was about Daniel and Henrik – as it should have been. But the appreciation shown for the two greatest people in Canucks history paled in comparison to the gratitude the twins showed everyone else when they finally took to the podium.
The Sedins had countless accomplishments of their own to reminisce about on the stage at Rogers Arena, but they had no time for self-aggrandizing. Instead, Hank and Danny patiently acknowledged and thanked every individual who had helped them along the way. Their words of thanks for their teammates, coaches, and other hockey personnel were genuine and touching, and their words for their families were heartfelt and full of love.
If there’s one moment that perfectly captures the gracious nature of the Sedins, it was a quick shot of former Canucks athletic trainer Mike Bernstein tearing up in the pressbox as the twins specifically mentioned how important the training staff had been to their career. It was pretty obvious that the feeling was mutual.
The Big Moment
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) February 13, 2020
This one can be presented without commentary.
Bo Horvat captaincy ceremony: 8-2 win.
Alex Burrows RoH induction: 5-2 win.
Legacy Night: 6-2 win.#ThankYouSedins ceremony: ???
I like the way this is trending for the #Canucks.
— Stephan Roget (@StephanRoget) February 13, 2020
The Canucks have developed a real reputation for following through on the emotional swells of pre-game ceremonies this season, and Sedin Night was no different. After all those in attendance had a chance to wipe the tears from their eyes, the current edition of the Vancouver Canucks took to the ice to honour Henrik and Daniel’s legacy in a different way – and honour it they did.
The Sedins had made sure to shout-out the team’s roster, its young stars, and the fact that coach Travis Green had them playing the “right way” – and then the Canucks went out there and proved it.
Of particular note was former teammate and fellow Swede Jacob Markstrom putting in what has to be considered one of the greatest goaltending performances in franchise history with a 49-save shutout.
That probably qualifies as a better retirement gift than a hundred trips to the Kentucky Derby.