Kuzma: Legendary stage awaits Daniel Sedin’s 1000 points plateau pitch

 

 
 
 
 
Henrik Sedin knows what it would mean for is brother to hit 1,000-point plateau Sunday.
 
 

Henrik Sedin knows what it would mean for is brother to hit 1,000-point plateau Sunday.

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NEW YORK — They know this is no longer their team. But it’s their moment.

It’s fitting that on the greatest stage in professional sports, Daniel and Henrik Sedin could combine to reach a significant plateau in a Sunday matinee at Madison Square Garden.

And as much as Daniel has refused to dwell upon or even discuss creeping closer to 1,000 career National Hockey League points — his goal and assist Friday in New Jersey placed the reluctant star at 998 and in the spotlight — his brother knows the significance if the winger becomes the 87th player in league history to fashion the feat.

Imagine if the twins produce power-play magic? Imagine Daniel getting a helper and then scoring off a blind backhand feed from Henrik to beat Henrik Lundqvist? Sweet Sedinery.

Difficult to imagine the Swedish stopper wouldn’t give his countryman a celebratory tap on the pads — much like Roberto Luongo did when Henrik hit the plateau last Jan. 20 at Rogers Arena.

And you’d like to think New York Rangers’ coach and former Canucks’ bench boss Alain Vigneault would allow himself a moment to make eye contact with Daniel and applaud the accomplishment.

Even those raucous Ranger fans, who still chant “Potvin sucks” before every game, would recognize the moment and rise as one. It’s why Henrik talked of anticipation and Daniel talked of trepidation.

“It’s exciting,” said the Vancouver Canucks’ captain. “When it happened to me, I didn’t realize how big a thing it was for myself until it happened. I’m sure it’s going to be the same thing for him.

“He never talks about it or thinks about it and maybe not until today (Friday). But two points away. When it happens, it’s going to be fun for him.”

The irony is that a revamped and rejuvenated power play could be the catalyst to make all this play out like a great Broadway drama.

After all, the 37-year-old Sedins are support players in the final year of their identical four-year, US$28 million contract extensions and face an uncertain playing future. Nine Canuck forwards are averaging more minutes per game than Daniel (14:02) and Henrik (14:04) and maybe that’s why Daniel hasn’t been doing the wave of joy while approaching 1,000 points.

He’s competitive and proud. He’s articulate and accountable. He prefers to lead rather than follow.

“I told you guys before — if it happens, it happens,” stressed Daniel. “This year is obviously different with our roles on the team and it (1,000 points) can happen next game or it can happen in six games. I’ll take it when it happens.”

Read between those lines.

Regardless of what the Sedins have said about embracing the franchise roster transition and accepting less responsibility, they’re not wired that way. The mind might be more willing than the body on some nights, but the passion has never eroded.

First-year Canucks coach Travis Green learned that in a hurry. He challenged them to be better in the summer and not only was their fitness off the charts at camp, they bought into where the club needed to go, even though it would mean less prominence.

“I expected them to be everything they have been,” Green said of his considerable ask of the twins. “They’re Hall of Fame players and Hall of Fame people.”

If you need a reminder of everything that led to this — the Sedins’ skating, tenacity and toughness were often questioned and they became the brunt of cruel jokes and name-calling — Cory Schneider offers some telling perspective.

The New Jersey Devils’ goaltender beat his former club Friday, but he beat a path to the locker-room to reunite with the Sedins. In his 108 crease appearances with the Canucks, Schneider saw firsthand how they inspired him to be better. He saw how they led by example, how they powered the Canucks to President’s Trophy titles in 2011 and 2012 and how they came within one game of a victory in a Stanley Cup Final series.

That’s why Schneider wanted Daniel to understand the adulation he’s going to receive as soon as Sunday. It’s going to be about the points, but also about the person. Daniel and Henrik are there to take the post-game heat after a loss and allow others to bask in the glory of a win.

You can’t talk about one without talking about the other.

“It’s a huge milestone for Danny,” said Schneider. “When you look back at the last 20 years of Canucks’ hockey, it’s the twins. That kind of consistency and the way you represent your organization means a lot.

“For me, they’re Hall of Famers for sure. Hank has an MVP and Danny should have won one. I know the Hall of Fame doesn’t look at the person when they look at your numbers, but they’re two of the best that I ever played with in this game. And I think that’s pretty unanimous around the league.”

That’s true.

However, the Sedins purposely released a Player’s Tribune piece the day before the 2017 training camp. They wanted to get ahead of speculation that they might be trade bait or not embrace lesser roles.

The love letter to Vancouver and the Canucks’ organization read like a long goodbye citing career highs and lows, gaffes and laughs, but without the microphone drop to announce a career exit date.

They will leave when it suits everybody.

“They’re not selfish,” added Schneider. “They’re always looking out for what’s best for the team and the organization and everyone else. If they’re not on a top line, then to them it’s: ‘Don’t play us like top-line guys.’ But they’re still effective. They’re still dangerous.

“And having them around from a culture standpoint in how hard they work and how they go about their business, young guys like (Brock) Boeser and (Bo) Horvat can see two of the best to ever play the game do their thing.”

bkuzma@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/benkuzma

NEXT GAME

Sunday

Vancouver Canucks vs. New York Rangers

11 a.m., Madison Square Garden, SNET, SNET 650 AM

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This week on The Patcast, Jeff and Botch dive into the roll Canucks rookie Brock Boeser is on and how his scoring success is starting to attract attention around the league. Listen here:

 

 
 
 
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Henrik Sedin knows what it would mean for is brother to hit 1,000-point plateau Sunday.
 

Henrik Sedin knows what it would mean for is brother to hit 1,000-point plateau Sunday.

 
Henrik Sedin knows what it would mean for is brother to hit 1,000-point plateau Sunday.
Daniel Sedin's passion for playing has helped pile up the career points.
Cory Schneider grew as a player and a person while playing with the Sedins.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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