In the quest for the Stanley Cup, Canucks fans are very fortunate to have players like Henrik and Daniel Sedin. The teamwork, leadership, and skill they bring to the team has been evident through the years and Canuck fans have all been witnesses to the Sedin Twins. As the Vancouver Canucks fight for playoff contention, some question whether the Sedins will ever win the Stanley Cup. Some question how much longer they can last in the NHL. Despite these questions, we have not seen their greatest work.
When Brian Burke first drafted the Twins, there were so many knocks on them. They were too small, the Twins were not fast enough, they were not tough enough, their game would not translate to North America. Little by little we were able to see the Sedins prove naysayers wrong. There have been some bumps on the road. The Twins' physical play is consistently criticized. Brian Burke came to their defence in the 2002 playoffs to say, "Sedin is not Swedish for 'punch me, or headlock me in a scrum.'" We all remember Brad Marchand treating Daniel like a punching bag in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. The Sedins have never been the fastest skaters, and that can show in today's fast paced NHL. As well as failing to defeat the Bruins in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
But, the Twins have proven their critics wrong. Daniel has an Art Ross trophy for being the NHL's leading scorer in the regular season and a Ted Lindsay trophy for being the most outstanding player in the NHL that year. Henrik has an Art Ross trophy as well as a Hart Memorial trophy for being the most valuable player to a team. The Twins led the Canucks to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals and back to back President trophies for being the best regular season team. Henrik is going on his fifth season as Captain of the Vancouver Canucks. He and Daniel have been invaluable to the leadership core of the Canucks. Henrik had an ironman streak of 679 regular season games plus 68 playoff games. Their work in the Vancouver community is some of the best in the NHL and is often overlooked by their critics.
I could continue on with what the Sedins have done throughout their careers in the NHL, but their most important work has not been finished. Last season, the Sedin Twins signed identical four year contracts that will end after the 2017-2018 season. The Twins are not unintelligent, they could most definitely see how the Canucks are trending downward from being a cup contender to barely making the playoffs. Despite looking elsewhere for opportunities, they chose to stay in Vancouver to weather the storm to come. They knew hard times would be coming as the team fights for playoff contention. The Twins faced John Tortorella, they were used in less offensive roles, they faced injury and continued derision by the media and NHL players. But, their work is not done.
The past few NHL Entry Drafts Mike Gillis, and now Jim Benning, as General Managers have been able to build up a stockpile of good prospects for the Vancouver Canucks. These prospects are beginning to show promise, Bo Horvat is a very good example and there are more with the Canucks' farm team, the Utica Comets. Who do these young promising players have to lean on as they develop into NHL players? Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Having the Sedin Twins in leadership roles and in first line duties allows young players to develop their craft away from the spotlight. If the Canucks play poorly in a game who answers the media's questions? Henrik and Daniel Sedin as well as the rest of the leadership core. Having the Sedin Twins, and other leaders, in this role allows Bo Horvat, Linden Vey, Frank Corrado and the prospects in Utica to quietly develop their game away from the spotlight. These players are not depended on to be the number one players. When things are not going well for the young players they can talk to the leaders about their struggles. Most importantly, the younger Canucks can watch the Sedins lead by example on and off the ice.
There is an example of what happens to young NHL players who do not have leaders like the Sedins to depend on. The Edmonton Oilers are filled with young and very skilled players. They have 3 first overall draft picks, as well as multiple high draft picks from the first round of the NHL Draft. The Oilers have all of this young skill, but no veteran players to lean on to learn how to play in the NHL. Yes, the Oilers have older players. However, older does not necessarily mean leaders and leaders do not necessarily mean good teachers. The current leadership core, excluding Andrew Ference, are all under the age of 25. When Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov were first entered the NHL, Shawn Horcoff was the Oiler's Captain. Not to discredit Horcoff, but he does not have the same skill or pedigree that the Sedin Twins have. He has not had to face the same adversity as the Twins. When Horcoff left the Oilers, the younger players were not adequately equipped to lead. They had to face the spotlight, they had to answer the criticism. Even when Horcoff was an Oiler Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov and the other young Oilers had to face the spotlight because they instantly became the "go to" players. Now, instead of playoff contention, the Edmonton Oilers are looking at the prospect of picking first overall again.
By the time their careers as Canucks have finished, the Sedin Twins will have completed their work. The Twins will have prepared the younger players how to be good NHL players. They will have taught them how to face adversity, how to handle being the "go to" players, and how to act off the ice. Whether Henrik and Daniel stay with Vancouver after their current contracts are up, they will have passed the torch onto the next generation of Canucks. They will have rebuilt the Canucks into a Stanley Cup contending team and they have done this most likely at the cost of winning the Stanley Cup themselves. Henrik and Daniel's work on and off the ice is vast, their leadership record speaking for them. The Sedins' work has made them heroes in the Vancouver community and the sacrifice to their career to stay in Vancouver gives fans a glimpse into the kind of people the Sedins are. The greatest work the Sedins will do is usher in the next Stanley Cup contending team for the Vancouver Canucks and we as fans get to witness it.