‘They were special’: Opponents still marvel at Sedin connection

Canada

One of the biggest challenges playing against Daniel and Henrik Sedin, remembers defenceman Tyler Myers, was trying to defend two people who shared a common thought process.

“There’s a running joke around the league that their minds were connected,” said Myers, a current Vancouver Canuck who faced the Swedish twins during his time in Buffalo and Winnipeg. “They used each other so well on the ice it seemed like they knew where each other was without looking.

“The passes they would make to each other, the vision they had on the ice. I think they are one of the best duos of all time the way they played the game.”

The Canucks raised Daniel’s No. 22 and Henrik’s No. 33 to the rafters of Rogers Arena Wednesday night. Participating in the emotional ceremony were past Vancouver captains Trevor Linden, Markus Naslund and Stan Smyl who also have had their numbers retired.

“Canuck fans, it’s so great to stand on this ice,” Henrik told the cheering sold-out crowd. “Being part of the Canuck family has been the best period of our life.

WATCH | Sedins’ jerseys raised to the rafters:

The Swedish superstars were honoured on Wednesday in an hour-long pregame ceremony. 1:42

“We are receiving the biggest honour we could ever imagine. There were so many people on this journey and we wouldn’t be standing here without you.”

There was a certain irony that on the night the Sedins’ numbers were retired the Canucks played the Chicago Blackhawks.

Vancouver and Chicago met in the playoffs three consecutive years, with the Blackhawks winning two of the series. There was no love lost between the franchises.

Chicago defenceman Duncan Keith received a five-game suspension in March of 2012 for a vicious elbow to Daniel Sedin’s head.

Instead of spitting vitriol, Henrik heaped praise on the Blackhawks.

“We loved playing against Chicago,” said Henrik. “I loved the city, loved the rink, loved their team. The way they played hockey was fun to watch.

“We took a lot of heat in that building. It really brought out the best in us.”

Early in their career the brothers from Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, were criticized as being too slow, too soft.

Former Boston Bruin Milian Lucic doesn’t remember it that way.

The Sedins faced some of their toughest battles in three epic playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Getty Images)

“They played fast,” said Lucic, now a Calgary Flame but was part of the Bruins’ team that won the 2011 Stanley Cup in a seven-games series against Vancouver. “They actually were really hard on the puck, the way they cycled it, the way they held onto it.”

The Sedins were like rubber balls. The harder you threw them against the wall, the faster they bounced back.

“You look at their track record,” said Lucic. “They didn’t miss a lot of games due to injury. They were playing against the top D pairing, the top shut-down guys every night. They were guys that were targeted, the opposition went after them on a night-to-night basis. They never seemed to get frustrated. They always seemed to have that smile on their face. You knew they were going to keep coming.”

Like grabbing smoke

Canuck centre Brandon Sutter said defending the Sedins was like grabbing smoke.

“When they were in the corner, the focus was back off, let them stay on the outside,” said Sutter, who faced the twins while playing in Carolina and Pittsburgh. “As soon as you tried to check one of them, or get body position on one, the other one would jump by and the puck would be behind you.”

The brothers also had deceptive speed.

“They had a way to be quick out of corners, even though they weren’t the fastest guys,” said Sutter. “Coming off the boards, out of the corners, off the walls, they had a way to get body position. They were special.”

Drafted second and third overall in 1997, the Sedins played 17 years in Vancouver before retiring in at the end of the 2018 season.

The Sedins said they hold no ill-will toward any opponents who might have got away with some dirty tricks. “That’s just part of hockey,” Henrik said. (Getty Images)

Henrik finished his career as Vancouver’s leader with 1,330 games played, 830 assists and 1,070 points. He won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer in 2009-10, with 112 points. He also won the Hart Trophy as league MVP that season.

Daniel leads the franchise with 393 goals and is second with 648 assists, 1,041 points and 1,306 games. He won the Art Ross in 2010-11 with 104 points and the Ted Lindsay Award as the league MVP voted on by the players.

The Sedins made their name on the ice but also a left a mark on the community.

Hospital donation

They donated $1.5 million to help build a new BC Children’s Hospital. They also established The Sedin Family Foundation which works to improve health, education and family wellness in B.C.

“Fans can think what they want of us as players,” said Henrik. “Some are going to like us, and some aren’t, but if you can be remembered as a good person, that’s No. 1.”

During their career the Sedins were hooked, tripped and slashed. They were called disparaging names like The Sisters and The Twinkies.

Henrik holds no grudges against individual players or teams.

“Players that played us hard, or were on the borderline playing dirty, that’s just part of hockey,” he said. “Of course, there were people maybe the way they acted and stuff … of course there are instances where you think they can handle things different. That’s not up to us to talk about.”

Defenceman Jordie Benn said he used to have a front-row seat to watch the Sedins during his days playing with Dallas and Montreal.

“Whenever those guys came on the ice, I was told to change,” he said. “I remember watching them a lot. It was a lot better watching from the bench than watching them score on you.”

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