VANCOUVER - There won't be any Hockey Night in Canada this weekend, but Daniel Sedin figures his home town of Ornskoldsvik should really be rocking on Saturday night.
Modo, the Swedish Elite League team that Daniel and Henrik played on before joining the Canucks, is returning home after a highly successful road trip.
The team, which has struggled in recent years to remain in the elite division, is tied for top spot in the 12-team league.
No one -- except maybe former Canuck captain and current Modo GM Markus Naslund -- is happier about that than the Sedins.
"It's a lot of fun," Daniel said. "I talked to Markus, too, and he's excited right now. They have a good thing going."
Daniel and Henrik follow Modo closely from afar. In fact, when Daniel emerged from a dressing room at UBC's Father David Bauer Arena following a skate Thursday morning, he already knew that Modo was up 1-0 in its road game against Rogle.
"I listen to them on the radio," he said.
Modo went on to win Thursday's game 3-2 and has now not lost in regulation in its last 11 games.
"It's so important for that team to stay in the highest division," Daniel said. "It's been tough the last few years to follow them because they have been hanging around the bottom two places. Right now, it's a lot of fun.
"I know 75 per cent of the players there and grew up playing with them. I know what that team means to our home town. If they go down to the second division they're probably never going to come back becausee there's no money, so it's important."
Ornskoldsvik is the smallest city with a team in the elite league and its residents have a deep passion for the squad.
"The difference between Vancouver and our home town is as a player here you play hockey, but you can get away from hockey in a sense because it's such a big city so you don't have to be part of the everyday talk," Henrik said. "Back in our home town you go for lunch and you have 30 people coming over and talking to you about it. And your brothers and mom and dad, they can't go to the grocery store without people asking what's wrong and right."
WAITING GAME: Daniel and Henrik continue to insist they won't make any decision about returning to play for Modo until they are convinced the NHL season is lost.
But Daniel made it sound like there's no question he'll go if the NHL season is cancelled.
"Oh yeah, if it's lost, for sure," he said.
Daniel also said the controversy over NHL players coming to play in the elite league on short-term deals seems to be over. Chicago forward Viktor Stalberg and Colorado centre Matt Duchene both recently signed with Frolunda.
Modo's current roster includes Abbotsford native Kyle Cumiskey and Richie Regehr, brother of Buffalo defenceman Robyn Regehr.
SLIM PICKINGS: Only five Canucks skated Thursday morning at UBC: the Sedins, Cory Schneider, Dan Hamhuis and Mason Raymond. Defenceman Kevin Bieksa took the morning off to tend to work on some last-minute details for his charity game next Wednesday night. Centre Manny Malhotra was in New York on NHLPA business.
"Nothing has changed," Henrik Sedin said. "You go out there, you work hard and you try to prepare the best you can and see what happens."
If there's an upside to the lockout, it's that the players with families have had the opportunity to spend more time with their children.
""I think for us it's being dads," Henrik said. "In Vancouver we are usually not the ones who are picking up our kids from school or driving them to soccer practice or watching them practice and just being part of their lives. That's the good thing about it. But that is the only thing right now."
Henrik's eldest son Valter plays both hockey and soccer.
"Saturday I am going to be the coach for the soccer team and I'm going to go on the ice in the next little while, too. But I don't want to be coaching my son (full-time). I think it's more fun to watch from the side. . .It's my feeling that being who we are it's more fun if he can just be like any other guy."
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