Ever since the Canucks drafted Henrik and Daniel Sedin in the 1999 entry draft, people knew that then GM Brian Burke had drafted two kids who were one day gonna be special players in this league offensively, and that they were. In the first few years of their NHL careers, fans, media and NHL analysts across North America weren't seeing what was previously advertised. In the years that followed, while both Daniel and Henrik showed signs of being the players that they were hyped up to be, people didn't see a lot of that grit,toughness and sandpaper type play you see from Canadians. What they saw were two players being pushed around, and not living up to first line potential. There were many who thought that they would be career 3rd liners, no matter how talented they were, and some would go as far as saying they were busts.
In the summer of 2006, after missing the playoffs, the Vancouver Canucks started changing the identity of this team. Todd Bertuzzi had been shipped off to Florida in a package deal that brought in star goaltender Roberto Luongo. Markus Naslund and Brenden Morrison remained, but weren't the players they were in previous years. This was when the spotlight shined brightly on the Sedin twins. They were looked upon to play a bigger role, and accept being extra go to guys for offence.
In that season of 2006-2007, they took their first big step forward, as Daniel lead the team with 36 goals and 84 points, while Henrik finished with 71 assists and 81 points. Clearly, they had for the first time, proven all the critics (and there were lots) wrong. They were officially the top line for the Canucks, as the West Coast express was an after thought. The Canucks finished as division leaders, and beat the Dallas Stars in a 7 game series, before being dismantled by the Stanley Cup favorite Anaheim Mighty Ducks in round 2.
In the years that followed, both Henrik and Daniel saw their fair share of linemates from Taylor Pyatt, Markus Naslund, Ryan Shannon, to Pavol Demitra. By 2009, Alex Burrows was a mainstay on the top line, as they had lots of success. The Sedins continued to improve and make the highlight reels across the world with their fancy passing ,crazy stick handling and huge goals.While they did this, they were also doing something else, staying injury free and not missing games. From 2005 to 2009, Henrik and Daniel played every single regular season and playoff game. In the 2009-2010 season Daniel Sedin missed 19 games with a broken foot.His brother Henrik didn't miss a beat, and eventually won the scoring race and the Art Ross Trophy. Henrik proved he didn't need to play alongside his brother to score points and help the team.
In 2010-2011, the Canucks had their best season in franchise history, setting a franchise wins record, winning the division, winning the conference, and the Presidents Trophy. Henrik and Daniel yet again, played every single regular season game. Daniel Sedin won the scoring race with 104 points, capturing the Art Ross trophy as well as the Hart Trophy. He had one upped his brother from the previous year. The Canucks this year were the favorite to win the Stanley Cup and bring it back to Canada. The beef on the Sedin twins from previous playoff years were they were criticized for being too soft, and they took a big amount of the blame from fans and media after two straight 2nd round exits at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks. This year however, they took it to another level and lead the team to its first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 17 years. After all was said and done though, they were 1 win shy of brining home the Stanley Cup. They combined for just 2 goals in the 7 game series against the rough hard nosed Boston Bruins. They were mugged, punched, shoved around like they were being assaulted by a playground bully. Local sports talks shows took calls all summer of how soft the Sedins were, and how the Canucks were never going to win a Stanley Cup with them leading the team. The image of Brad Marchand repeatedly punching a Sedin who had no push back, went viral. That was the perception of both Henrik and Daniel all of a sudden, and it wasn't right.
I however, have a different opinion. How can people call these guys soft? As of right now, Henrik Sedin has played 553 straight games, 2nd on the current ironman list. If you add the 66 playoff games he's played in, he's played in 619 consecutive games, which would easily surpass Jay Bouwmeester (1st on ironman list) since he's never played in a playoff game in his career. These guys get the most minutes out of any forwards on the team, and face every other teams top defence pairings each night, and a lot of time make those defence pairings look mediocre. Is that not tough? Henrik last missed a game in 2004. Besides Daniels 19 missed games 2 years ago, he too has rarely missed game action. The Canucks powerplay which is currently ranked #1 in the NHL, and has been in the top 5 for the last handful of years, has mostly to do with these two guys. They are respected all throughout the league, minus one David Bolland and a few Bruins, but thats another blog for another time.
The fact of the matter is, these are special players, players that the NHL hasn't ever seen before, and I doubt this league ever will again after their retirement. Stanley Cup, or no cup, they will long be remembered for quietly going about their business, donating to local charities, playing their game, staying away from badmouthing opponents, and bringing hockey fans to their feet with their dazzling mind boggling abilities on the ice. Enjoy them hockey fans, they wont be here forever.
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