Brayden Fengler / June 24, 2021
The worst kept secret in recent weeks has finally been brought out into the open. Henrik and Daniel Sedin are officially back working under the roof of Rogers Arena, as special advisors to the general manager. While GM Jim Benning is still the man in charge, Henrik and Daniel will have a role to play in advising Jim around hockey operation decisions, as well as learning the managerial ropes themselves.
The twins will also no doubt play a huge role in mending the bridges of communication inside the organization. The foundation of those bridges has been slowly rotting away since last year’s free agency walkouts and the dumpster fire that was the handling of the team’s COVID shutdown and return.
Other than potentially guiding Jim away from bad deals, which is no doubt a huge selling feature of this new role for the twins, there will likely be another more intangible benefit of having Hank and Danny in the same building as the team. On and off the ice the Sedins have always been role models for many people in the City of Vancouver, and this has especially been the case for those that have been lucky enough to skate alongside them.
Now by bringing the Sedins back in to the fold, young players who never saw NHL action with the two brothers will get the chance to have some of their magic rub off on them. The team’s rookies will now be able to learn from the best, about what it truly means to be a Canuck.
The Captain is Jacked
Bo Horvat’s tweet left little to be interpreted, the 26-year-old Canucks captain is clearly pumped to have Hank any Dany back in the building and heavily involved in steering this ship. It’s fitting too that other than Alex Edler, the current Canucks captain has played the most NHL games with the Sedin’s as a teammate out of any currently rostered Canucks player.
Bo was fortunate enough to sit on the same bench as the Sedins the better part of four NHL seasons, from 2014-15 all the way up to the Sedins’ last outing in 2017-18. This was no doubt enough time for Bo to gain great first-hand knowledge of what these two can do just with their presence alone.
In an interview conducted by Iain MacIntyre in October of 2019 around the time of Bo’s new captaincy, Bo had this to say when talking about how the Sedins impacted his development as a player:
“Playing behind (Henrik) has made me the player I am now… and the way he handles himself in the community, and all that stuff, and seeing how much he brings to this organization, it’s incredible to watch and it makes you want to be better as a player and a person.” – Bo Horvat (Sportsnet)
So much of the Sedin’s standing comes from praise they have earned off the ice, whether that’s what they have done in the community, their calm demeanour that has kept them out of trouble (albeit, it also made them a target in their earlier years) or the inspirational power that they seem to have with every one of their teammates.
What has always made the twins stick in the hearts and minds of everyone who knows them, is the way that the Sedins have always conducted themselves, as being good people, before good players. Bo is right to be excited for their infectious energy to be back in the building.
If You Know You Know
It may feel like just yesterday, because we have all been living in groundhog day mode for the past year and a half now, but the Sedins actually retired three whole NHL seasons ago. With that in mind, it should be no surprise that there are a host of young Canucks who have never played with the Sedins and have only presumably heard the same stories that we all have, about their love and respect for the game of hockey.
There are though a small number of current players, other than the previously mentioned Bo Horvat and Alex Edler who have shared the ice with the Sedins. There are a few inconsequential players that are still technically within the Canucks system that have played with the twins before, those being Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, and Jake Virtanen.
Key Canucks players that have been blessed with first-hand experience of how the twins can shift the team’s mood are Brock Boeser, Tyler Motte, Brandon Sutter, and Thatcher Demko. Each of them has played with the twins for a different amount of time, with Sutter being around distinctly longer than the other three. However, the specific amount of time that each player has had with Henrik and Daniel as teammates almost doesn’t matter.
There are endless accounts from over the years of how quickly the twins can have an effect on the people that they engage with. With the players that have already built varying degrees of relationships with the twins, it will no doubt feel like a reunion a long time coming when they’re able to see them again on a regular basis.
The Sedins may not have been brought on as coaches, but if the connections they make with players, new and old, is able to help this team’s mental game, then there is no reason to keep them locked up in the executive level of the building.
Alex Edler, the twins’ longest-running teammate currently rostered on the Canucks, recounted just this past July in an interview with Ben Kuzma about how the Sedins are still demonstrating a level of athleticism and determination that has continued to impress him. Edler said this while looking back on a conversation he had recently had with the twins at the time:
“Every summer, I try to focus a lot on cardio and they asked me if I wanted to join them for a trail run, I said I didn’t know because I probably had no chance of keeping up with them. They said: ‘It’s OK because we just ran a marathon last week and this is more of a recovery week for us.” – Alex Edler (The Province)
Even in retirement the Sedins demanded a lot from themselves, and there is no reason to think that they won’t bring that infectious state of mind with them back to the organization in their new role.
Young and Impressionable
Quinn Hughes, whom it may feel like has been a mainstay Canuck forever, was actually a year too late to have ever played with the twins. Hughes struggled this year with the defence side of his game and has voiced his intent to work on it over the summer.
Hughes has, of course, proven himself to be an offensive force on the blue line during regular play and special teams, but as evidenced by his performance last year, he still has room to go in becoming a well-rounded player.
Although Hank and Dany were not Defencemen themselves they have always played a very defensive-minded game, especially under coach Alain Vigneault. Obviously, the work here is Hughes to do with the help of his trainers and Canucks coaching staff, but having Henrik and Danial around as a sounding board for a young defensive star, who may be on the tipping point of an identity crisis, could be exactly what the doctor ordered for Hughes and the team.
Jack Rathbone is another young D-man that showed tremendous potential last season, and although yes again both Rathbone and Hughes are D-men and the twins were not, it’s not so much the specific on-ice positional help that these young players will benefit from by having the Sedins in the building. Rathbone and other fresh faces to the team will now benefit from the same leadership presence that the Sedins bestowed upon their teammates in their playing days.
Rathbone and Hughes, fellow Swedes Pettersson and Höglander would’ve been among the first generation of Canucks players to grow into their roles on this team without the presence of Henrik and Daniel. Now young Canucks players will get the best of both worlds, courtesy of the day-to-day guidance of their captain Bo Horvat who learned from the Sedins himself, and the big picture advice they can receive from the twins themselves.
Nils Höglander, and Elias Pettersson especially will no doubt be able to utilize the wisdom that Henrik and Daniel have to offer. Sweedish connection aside, those two rookies have similar builds and physical limitations as the Sedins did during their first few years. Höglander and Pettersson can benefit from hearing from the Sedins first hand, on how they dealt with common situations that young European stars run into.
It’s one thing to hear stories about the twins from other members of the organization, which perhaps Höglander and Pettersson have, but it’s another to be able to actually sit down with them on a semi-regular basis and know that you have people in the organization that can relate to your situation almost to a tee.
Hope for Us All
Heck, even J.T. Miller may dial back the profanities from time to time with the Sedins in the building. Miller has passion, but last season, in particular, maybe due to the isolating nature of the COVID season, or the fact that no fans in the buildings meant clearer audio, but Miller often sounded and looked genuinely pissed off and annoyed with himself and his team.
As was shown in full display during his infamous presser condemning the league’s schedule during their return from COVID, Miller does not take it lightly when he feels communication between his team and the organization is not at an acceptable level.
Now though, with the Sedins in the building, not only will Miller, who has never played with them, have two new friends to talk to, but, he will now also likely find it a bit harder to get completely steamed at management, with two of the most even-tempered guys on the planet now apart of it. Hopefully, though the Sedins will genuinely help Jim Benning and other leadership avoid situations that would frustrate players in the first place.
Time will tell how useful the Sedins are in their roles as far as management goes. Will they help Benning close deals without running out the clock? will they steer him away from contracts that may handicap the team’s future? Maybe, and hopefully.
But as far as how the Sedin’s new role will affect the players, the Sedins eventually have the Midas touch right now. Any player that they’re able to connect with, will be all the better for it, and for that reason alone, this move is a win for the franchise.