Who is he again?
Henrik Lars Sedin
Height: 6 ft. 2 in
Weight: 188 lbs
Born: September 26, 1980 in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden
Acquired: Drafted 1st round, 3rd overall (foreshadowing?) in 1999.
Henrik Sedin, coming off a late career renaissance year in 2014-15, bounced back down to earth a bit this year, posting stats more in line with the infamous Tortorella year. Is the decline age and injury related, related to the weaker, younger supporting cast surrounding the Sedins this year, or the reflection of a poor power play? Frankly, it's probably a little of all three. Henrik Sedin seems more than ready to be a second line center, but personnel-wise the Canucks simply don't have that luxury.The Sedins remain the straws that stir Vancouver's drink, for both good and bad.
I found it surprising, given the general criticism of Willie Desjardins player deployment decisions, that Henrik's offensive zone stars were markedly higher than last season's.
What did we like?
Henrik Sedin reached two significant milestones in 2016. In February, he passed Trevor Linden's record of 1,140 for most games played as a Vancouver Canuck.
And in March against the Nashville Predators, Henrik passed Maurice "Rocket" Richard on the NHL all time points list. Henrik Sedin has now scored the 88th most points in NHL history with 970. He's three behind Andy Bathgate and 19 behind Paul Kariya.
These milestones speak to both his amazing consistency and to his great talent. With these milestones in mind, Jeremy Davis at CanucksArmy took up the question of whether the Sedins were Hall of Fame worthy (spoiler alert: of course, dummy). And yet, they still get but a fraction of the respect around the league they deserve. I was shocked, in a good way, when Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post ran a column praising the Sedins when Vancouver was visiting the Capitals.
Beyond scoring, Henrik continued to burnish his credibility as the Vancouver Canucks' leader. Recall the late season California sweep that had TeamTank cursing the Canucks. Henrik spoke out, imploring team management not to be mislead by good results against good teams not playing at their peak. Henrik's presence as captain is a major reason it's good to have the kids in the lineup and getting callups from Utica. It's one thing to be told what they have to do to become a pro. It's quite another to witness first hand how one of the best players and best leaders of this generation conducts himself. Bo Horvat cited a conversation with Henrik in Philadelphia, commiserating with Horvat over his sophomore struggles and telling him he went through it too, with turning Horvat's season around.
What did we not like?
Well, Mikhai Grabovski, for one, but injuries took a real toll on Henrik and, by extension the Canucks, this year. When he was in the lineup, he was forced to play in a variety of situations, taking focus away from offensive duties. And the opposition could focus on shutting down the Sedins, since the Canucks really had no secondary offensive threat among the forwards or defense. He missed a share of games (and played injured in who knows how many more). The only confirmed injury at the end of the season was a broken finger. I have no idea when he broke it, or how long he played with the finger broken. I'd think intuitively a broken finger would be a reason for his poor face off percentage, but it probably wasn't broken for long enough to be the major reason.
Just look at some of the hits Henrik took this year:
Before any of this, there were games near the end of 2015 during which Henrik could not even sit at the bench.
Surely these hits slowed the captain down this year -- and probably would have slowed him down more, were he not a fanatic about training and working hard.
Henrik figures to be in a better situation next year if Brandon Sutter can stay healthy and if Bo Horvat can build on the struggles of his second season. If the team is hit with injuries or if any of the center depth takes a step back, Henrik may again be asked to do too much, and his production may suffer.
And at the end of season press availability, a characteristically honest Henrik said the Canucks need to get younger before they get better. And he contrasted the feeling at the end of the Tortorella year with the feeling at the end of this season. Whereas the team that cratered at the end of 2014 was older and, to borrow from the coach at the time, stale, Henrik feels this year's team has pieces in place. And given the pieces they have will be augmented by a high pick from this year's first round, and perhaps a player or two from free agency, there is every chance Henrik will have a big impact on developing the next Canucks core.
Both Daniel and Henrik have two years left on their current contracts, and after Monday's press conference, it's clear they are all in on the notion of a rebuild. From Iain MacIntyre's write up:
There’s no question about that, We weren’t OK with it this year. It’s not going to be any different next year if (the results are) going to be the same. But I’m fully confident that it won’t be. That’s why we’re all-in. You can’t just have a bad year and think it’s not going to be better.
Bonus Henrik Videos
In November 2015, Henrik Sedin joined George Stroumboulopoulis for a wide ranging two part interview. I know people are split on Strombo as a host, but he is a terrific interviewer. These are worth your time if you haven't seen them before.
From the Canucks in Cars series: