Sedins want to re-sign, stay and win — cue the cheers and boos
If the twins don't stick, Canucks need to launch a serious rebuild program
Given the age and ability of the players whose contracts are expiring, the cycle of the team and all that has happened in Vancouver the last year, we naturally wonder if the relationship will soon end between Henrik and Daniel Sedin and the Canucks.
Not because the National Hockey League team doesn’t need them, but because the twins would be crazy to stay.
The 33-year-olds have only a few seasons left to win a Stanley Cup, the grail from which the Canucks appear to be gradually retreating. After more than a decade of superior play — a great stretch in franchise history that coincides with the Sedins’ rise to stardom — the Canucks are due for a down cycle and serious market correction.
Despite the brothers’ ongoing status as two of the best and most productive forwards in the game, some fans and reporters continue to swing at Danny and Hank as if they were pinatas. And now the Canucks have a tough-talking new coach in John Tortorella, who has said he needs more from the Sedins and more “bite” and “stiffness” from a team that was easy to play against last season.
The general manager, Mike Gillis, has done nothing to upgrade either bite or stiffness.
The Sedins, who have only one season remaining on their discounted, five-year, $30.5-million contracts, might look at the unflattering big picture in Vancouver and decide their final $20-30 million would be better earned somewhere else.
Instead, there was Henrik on Monday, the Canucks’ captain, skating at UBC among the team’s early arrivals and reiterating that not only do he and Danny wish to stay, they’d like to finalize contract extensions before Vancouver’s regular season begins on Oct. 3.
“There has been some talk,” Sedin said. “Nothing really concrete, but it’s getting there. We would like to get something done before the season. We’re not guys who like to talk about those things while playing, so we’ll see what happens.”
Cue the cheering and booing because with the Sedins, there seems no middle ground.
But understand this: with a market in which Stephen Weiss, 30, can command $4.9 million annually and Mike Ribeiro, 33, and Patrik Elias, 37, $5.5 million on multi-year deals, the Sedins probably aren’t taking a pay cut and certainly aren’t re-signing for less than three years. The notion of a one-year extension for $4-5 million is someone’s fantasy.
Understand also that if the Sedins leave next summer as free agents, it’s over for these Canucks.
The full-scale rebuild may as well begin, and Vancouver isn’t again going to snare at the same time two world-class players among the first three picks of an entry draft.
“If we’re part of that (rebuilding), we can help,” Henrik said gamely. “We can help younger guys. That’s nothing we shy away from if that happens. But I still believe this team has a few years left where we have a chance to win.
“With the core group we have, we’re going to have another chance here to prove ourselves. But we need young guys to step up. We need Zack (Kassian) to come in and play the way he can — every night. And we need other young guys to come in, too. That’s the way it has to be.”
Asked about Tortorella, who benched star centre Brad Richards in last spring’s playoffs before the New York Rangers fired their coach, Sedin said: “I’m sure there will be times in the season where he might bench us for a shift or two. I think that will be more talked about in the media than us. It’s going to be fun if he expects more from the best players.
“You’ve got to remember, we came up in a system in Sweden where we had to play really well defensively. When we were 16 or 17, we had every role on the team — penalty killing, power play, on the ice in the last minute.
“We had a really, really tough coach (Per Backman) when we came up, and we had Marc Crawford our first four or five years in Vancouver. We were used to that kind of style of coach pretty well all the way up until we got Alain (Vigneault). This isn’t going to come as a shock to us.”
The trade of Canuck starting goalie Cory Schneider, however, shocked Sedin as it did everyone else when announced at the NHL draft in June. The deal meant Roberto Luongo, who had asked for a trade and spent more than a year waiting for one, was suddenly again the Canucks’ No. 1 goalie.
Luongo was so excited about the violent plot twist in Vancouver’s goaltending saga that he fired his agent and refused until last week to speak on the record about his forced return to the Canucks.
Sedin, speaking publicly about it for the first time, said Monday that Canuck players have no issue with Luongo.
“Knowing him, as we do, it’s not like he doesn’t want to be here (with us),” Sedin said. “He maybe didn’t want to be in the situation he was in, but I know he loves our team and the guys. So it’s a different situation than it could have been.
“He has always been a great, great teammate and a good friend. We all know the kind of competitor he is. I think for him, he sees the chance to be a No. 1.”
Sedin still sees that chance for the team, too, and intends to be part of it.
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