Vancouver Canucks’ Daniel Sedin works out prior to the team’s practice at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on April 9, 2012.
Photograph by: Ric Ernst, PNG
This much we know:
1) Daniel Sedin has not suffered a setback.
2) The Vancouver Canucks are following a strict protocol when it comes to Sedin.
At least we think we know this, because everyone who was quizzed about the health of D. Sedin on Tuesday eagerly supplied this information in a rehearsed, somewhat robotic fashion, like the soldiers in The Manchurian Candidate.
Apparently, this program was designed to satisfy the inquisitive minds who were trying to glean information about the recently concussed winger.
But let’s just say it didn’t quite answer all the questions that were in the air as the Canucks prepared for Game 1 of their opening-round series with the L.A. Kings.
“I’m not going to use the word ‘setback,’ ” said his brother Henrik, who stuck to the script with a single-minded purpose.
Hammerin’ Hank was then asked if it was actually Daniel who was wearing No. 33 at the Canucks practice.
“You never know,” he said.
No, you never know this time of year because, if the truth is the first casualty of war, it’s also the first upper-body injury of the playoffs.
Daniel, in fact, could be healthy and the Canucks are attempting an elaborate ruse to to discombobulate the Kings. He also could have suffered a setback or setback-like symptoms. Or, and here’s a thought, it could be the Canucks are being cautious and, potentially, holding their star winger out of Game 1 for purely precautionary reasons.
That might be the most reasonable explanation. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for clarification from the Canucks, who seem to be run by H.R. Haldeman these days.
“Not much,” Henrik said when he was asked, theoretically of course, how things would change in Daniel’s absence. “We’re going to play as a team and that’s not going to change if he’s there or not. We’re going to roll four lines. If we need to win 1-0, we’re going to win 1-0. That’s where we are.”
Even if no one knows where, exactly, that is.
The Daniel drama, of course, took another twist the day before the Western Conference quarterfinal was to begin and, if the Canucks’ aim is to shroud Sedin’s condition in secrecy, you have to give them full credit for succeeding.
On Monday, Daniel took a regular practice with the team — signalling, it seemed, his return to the lineup for Game 1. But at Tuesday’s practice, he wasn’t on the ice with the regulars. Instead, he skated with the Black Aces, a development that led to all manner of informed conjecture and some damn fine comedy from Alain Vigneault, who insisted the Canucks are following “protocol.”
Which protocol is that, AV? The one where you let the player secretly skate on his own, then re-introduce him to full practice, then have him skate with the irregulars?
“I’m not going to get into the exact protocol,” Vigneault clarified.
Too bad. Would have loved to hear that explanation. But for fans of this intrigue, take heart. The story isn’t going anywhere until Daniel returns to the lineup.
Until then, here are a few things to consider.
The prevailing wisdom about losing a star player — and we’re not saying that’s the case here; Lord knows that’s not what we’re saying — is that his absence will eventually be felt over the long haul but, in the short term, you can compensate for his loss.
As it happens, the current edition of the Canucks has never been deeper and, thus, better equipped to withstand an injury to a player like Daniel.
On Tuesday, Mason Raymond skated with Henrik and Alex Burrows, while Max Lapierre lined up with Ryan Kesler and David Booth on the second line. If that doesn’t work, the estimable Chris Higgins could be promoted. Zack Kassian has played with the twins this season. So has Andrew Ebbett.
Henrik also played his best hockey of the season after his brother went down on March 21 and he built the foundation of his Hart Trophy season two years ago when Daniel missed 18 games with a broken foot.
The Canucks, for their part, went 8-1-1 over the final 18 days of the regular season without Daniel.
If this is a serious injury — and the least you can say at this point is it doesn’t look like a long-term situation — the implications for the Canucks are, well, serious. But if Daniel just needs a couple more days, or one more day, to feel comfortable, they can get by.
And it will be a sad day when he returns to the lineup. We’ll have to look elsewhere for entertainment.
© Copyright (c) The Province