Ed Willes: Sedins’ transition game isn’t lost on impressed teammates

 

 
 
 
 
Captain Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks, right, and his brother Daniel celebrate a goal with their bench. Both are now members of the NHL's 1,000-point club, but their role as mentors is what impresses their younger teammates.
 

Captain Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks, right, and his brother Daniel celebrate a goal with their bench. Both are now members of the NHL's 1,000-point club, but their role as mentors is what impresses their younger teammates.

Photograph by: Harry How, The Province

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Daniel Sedin stood in the middle of the Canucks’ locker-room on Friday answering questions about his least favourite subject: Himself.

Sedin, of course, was responsible for his own predicament. The night before, he’d notched career points 999, 1,000 and 1,001 in the Canucks’ 5-3 win in Nashville, a game that couldn’t have been scripted better for the NHL’s newest, er, millennial.

The milestone, for starters, came in a Canucks win and point 1,000 was a third-period power-play goal that lifted his team into a 3-3 tie against the Predators. Point 1,001 came on Loui Eriksson’s empty-netter after Daniel and Henrik exchanged a series of passes that left their linemate little choice but to shoot the puck into the vacated cage.

It was also the third goal of the game for that line, capping off a productive six-game road trip in which they revealed themselves as a viable scoring option for the Canucks.

So it had been a very good night all the way around for Daniel, one which was important on so many levels for the player and the team, even if his answers didn’t betray much in the way of emotion.

Yes, he was happy his 1,000th point came during a Canucks win. No, he didn’t think much about its deeper significance. Mostly, his career has been the result of playing with good players on good teams.

“I think (reflection) will come when we’re done,” he said in one of his more revealing moments. “Right now we’re in the middle of the season. Games come and games go and, tomorrow, we’ve got a big one (against Toronto). That’s all I care about right now.

“I think that’s how we’ve been able to maintain our level of play, just focusing on the daily business.”

As it happened, Bo Horvat walked out in the locker-room as Daniel was concluding his scrum. This is Horvat’s fourth season in Vancouver, his fourth year of watching the Sedins focusing on their business, his fourth year in a master class of what it takes to be a pro.

He’s asked what he’s learned from the twins over those four years.

“I’ve never seen them come to the rink and have a bad day,” said the 22-year-old centre. “As a young guy, you have to look at that and have to learn from it. I’ve learned a lot the last four years.”

And one day, a day that’s coming sooner than anyone cares to think, he’ll be the respected veteran the young guys look to.

This season, of course, marks a transition year for the Sedins and the Canucks and, while it hasn’t always gone smoothly, the recently concluded six-game roadie seemed to signal another shift in their constantly changing roles on the team.

For most of this season, the Sedins have been given third-line minutes and tasked with producing some offence while doing the Yoda-thing in the locker-room. Eriksson’s presence, however, has sparked some of the old magic with the twins while giving the Canucks that crucial second scoring line.

On the six-game trip, Henrik had eight assists, Eriksson finished with five goals and two assists and Daniel chipped in with three goals and seven points of his own.

At the risk of stating the obvious, a lot of things change for this team if the Sedins and Eriksson can produce at anywhere near a similar level for the remainder of the season.

“We need them to be good and we need them to produce,” said Canucks coach Travis Green. “You have to give them credit. It’s been an adjustment for them this year.”

Green went on to say the Sedins’ workload varies from game to game, but he discusses their ice time with them regularly. Against the Preds, Daniel played 12:34. The three previous games he’d played 16:34, 17:59 and 18:16 after starting the road trip with 13:09 in Philly and 10:38 in Pittsburgh, both Canucks wins.

Green also advised on Friday that, with the injury to Brandon Sutter, the Sedins’ line “is going to have to play head-to-head” against the other team’s top lines.

“I like the dialogue I’ve had with them,” Green said. “There have been nights when I should have played them more but it’s just the way the game went with penalties. To be able to talk to players who really understand the game and how matchup works is a huge bonus to a coach.”

Still, there’s one area where Green doesn’t need to explain things to Daniel and Henrik, and that’s their function as the team’s leaders. In a tradition that’s been in the game longer than the red-line, the twins have been setting the example for players such as Horvat, Ben Hutton, Troy Stecher and Brock Boeser.

Again, it’s not something either Sedin talks about. Then again, they don’t really have to. It’s there in their presence, in their work ethic, their deportment but, mostly, it’s there for the Canucks’ young players to learn from.

“We watched Markus (Naslund), Trevor (Linden), Mattias (Ohlund), how they reacted to different situations, the message they sent to the team,” said Daniel. “You have to pick those things up but it takes time. It doesn’t happen right away.

“I think for young guys it’s important they watch and learn. It happens naturally when it’s time. It’s tough to explain but that’s the way it’s always been.”

Boeser has now been in the Sedins’ orbit for all of 32 games but he knows he’s in the presence of something special.

There are a million reasons to like this kid. This one makes the shortlist.

“It’s not just how hard they work on the ice and in the weight room,” Boeser said “It’s how they carry themselves outside the locker-room. It makes you want to follow them.

“Having guys like that, having them pass the torch to younger guys on this team, is truly special. We’ll cherish that and make sure we pass it on.”

And hold it high. They’d want it that way.

ewilles@postmedia.com

twitter.com/willesonsports

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Captain Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks, right, and his brother Daniel celebrate a goal with their bench. Both are now members of the NHL's 1,000-point club, but their role as mentors is what impresses their younger teammates.
 

Captain Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks, right, and his brother Daniel celebrate a goal with their bench. Both are now members of the NHL's 1,000-point club, but their role as mentors is what impresses their younger teammates.

Photograph by: Harry How, The Province

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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