Canucks hope to say 'you're it' to Daniel Sedin
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LOS ANGELES – Not only could he not play hockey with his teammates, Daniel Sedin couldn’t play tag with his kids.
And while it was a funny anecdote the Vancouver Canuck shared about telling his children he couldn’t come out and play – “they said: ‘Your legs are fine, let’s play tag’” – it was sad, too, because it illustrated how players risk losing more than hockey when they are struck on the head as Daniel was by Duncan Keith’s vicious elbow on March 21.
Four weeks later, most of it endured by Sedin with a constant headache and neck pain, the Canucks hope to get back last season’s National Hockey League scoring champion.
Outrageous as it may seem to a combustible Canuck Nation living and dying on tonight’s National Hockey League playoff game against the Los Angeles Kings, probably the more important development is that Ronja, Erik and Anna Sedin are getting their dad back, too.
“Headaches were my main thing, and that was bad enough,” Sedin told reporters Tuesday after practising here with his team, which trails the Kings 3-0 and faces elimination in the first-round series. “It’s tough to explain, but it’s probably the toughest time, mentally, that I have been through.”
Later, when the enormous media herd had thinned a little, he said: “At first, it got better and better, and then I’d have a day when I didn’t feel right. So I’d take a step back and just relax for a few days. It’s been on and off. But it’s been a while since I had those real bad headaches, so it feels really good right now.
“I was having headaches all day long. Even a week and a half ago, I could feel good most of the day and then it would flare up again. I haven’t had a headache for a while now, so I doubt it’s going to come back.”
But nobody knows, which is why Sedin’s participation in Game 4 will be determined only shortly before faceoff.
He appeared to be on his way back last Monday when he first practised with the Canucks. But Sedin didn’t feel well, and has skated on his own since then, gradually building towards another comeback attempt.
“That’s the thing, no one can see inside my head what it feels like,” he said. “I mean, I am a positive guy. I try to be happy and try to look at it in a positive way [but] I didn’t feel 100 per cent at the practice. I know it is tough to see from the outside.”
Whether Daniel plays tonight or not, there is no issue about his toughness.
He has 567 points in 544 games since the 2004-05 NHL lockout and only twice has missed a significant number of games due to injury. You can’t play that much and score that frequently without toughness.
Sedin’s brother, Henrik, hasn’t missed a game in eight years. The Canuck captain was blown up by Dustin Brown’s full-throttle bodycheck on Sunday, but hauled himself back on to the bench and didn’t miss a shift.
Daniel also got up from the ice and skated off with all his equipment after Keith performed a tonsillectomy with his elbow in Chicago. The Blackhawks’ defenceman was suspended only five games, seven fewer than Sedin has missed.
“When it happened, I thought: OK, a week and then I’m back,” Sedin said. “A week and half went by and I still wasn’t feeling good. Two weeks, then 2 1/2 weeks. You wake up every day expecting to feel good and it’s still there. That’s the tough part. First, you worry about hockey. Then, you worry about just getting rid of the headache.”
Sedin said he hasn’t heard from Keith and declined to say anything about the hit or suspension, lest anyone accuse a Canuck of whining.
He wasn’t expecting Keith to come at him after the Blackhawk was hit hard by Sedin in the corner earlier in the game.
“Why would I?” he said. “I don’t really want to comment on this, but we had a meeting with Brendan Shanahan [the NHL justice minister] about a week before that game and from what I’ve seen my hit was one he said was a legal hit. That’s all I have to say about that.”
Sedin did reach out during his recovery to Washington Capital Nicklas Backstrom, the Swede who missed the last half of the regular season after being elbowed in the head by Rene Bourque. Backstrom missed 40 games; Shanahan suspended Bourque for five.
Sedin also shared concussion notes with Canuck teammates David Booth and Keith Ballard. Booth sat out most of the 2009-10 season, while Ballard missed 30 games this season, returning to the Canucks for Game 2 of the playoffs.
“The struggle is the uncertainty, the unknown,” Ballard explained Tuesday. “Is this a week, two weeks, two months? I didn’t know whether I’d miss five games or miss the rest of the year. That was hard. Once you get over symptoms, it’s just putting in time and work to get back. That’s the easy part.
“But you have a lot of irritability and a lot of mood swings. It was hard being at home and feeling grumpy. I’d apologize to my wife. You don’t know how long things like that last. Thankfully, for Danny, it wasn’t that long.”
Sedin said his wife, Marinette, was supportive and patient.
“I was able to relax at home and she’s been taking care of the kids,” Daniel said. Then he smiled and added: “I think she was happy to see me leave yesterday.”
Almost as happy as the Canucks were to see him arrive.
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