One of the more remarkable tandems in sports history is skating away from the NHL in the same manner they played it. Twin brothers, Daniel and Henrik Sedin have taken their final bow with class, professionalism and together.
Born on September 26, 1980 in Sweden, the fascinating NHL journey of Daniel and Henrik began just prior to the 1999 NHL draft. That’s when a determined Vancouver Canuck General Manager, Brian Burke, made a series of unprecedented draft moves that were a fitting beginning to an equally unprecedented pair of careers.
The Canucks had the 3rd pick that year and the Sedins were top prospects. At three it seemed certain that Vancouver would land one of the brothers, but from Burke’s vantage point, that was not good enough. Their on ice chemistry, which came naturally (literally), and their track record provided enough evidence for Burke to want to get both of them. But how?
His first move was to trade All-Star defenseman Bryan McCabe and another first-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for the 4th pick in that draft. Although it gave them picks three and four, it was no guarantee that Burke would still get both of them. So, on draft day (June 26th), he worked more magic trading the 4th pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning, plus two 3rd rounder’s, to acquire the number one overall pick. The expansion Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets) had the 2nd pick, so Burke reached out and swapped number one for number two with the assurance that Atlanta would not pick one of the twins at number one.
The guarantee was sealed. Atlanta picked Patrik Stefan first, with Daniel and Henrik following at two and three respectfully.
The rest, as they say, is history. Burke’s zealous gamble and intuition paid off. One Sedin would have been great, but two Sedins would prove legendary. For the next 18 years (17 seasons when you subtract 2004-05), the Sedins quietly skated their way to stardom. Their humble dignity kept them under the radar and out of the lime light for the most part. They were poetry on ice and grace off ice. They played the game with excellence and were better defensively than they were given credit for. Their hockey smarts made them great leaders and teammates. All the intangibles line up for them, but what will be remembered are their incredibly similar numbers that make identifying them on the stat sheet almost as confusing as identifying them physically.
In a sport that can be brutal, they were a pair of iron horses. In 17 seasons, Daniel played in every game 8 times and Henrik did it 13 times, including his final season which wrapped up on Saturday. The fewest games that Daniel played in a season was 72 (excluding lockout shortened 2012-13) and Henrik, 70. In an era where giving the fans their money’s worth is more important than ever, the Sedins answered the bell night in night out.
In keeping with the boxing metaphor, the tale of the tape is remarkably close:
Games played: Henrik 1330 Daniel 1306
Goals: Henrik 240 Daniel 393
Assists: Henrik 830 Daniel 648
Points: Henrik 1070 Daniel 1041
Plus/minus Henrik 165 Daniel 147
In 2009-10, Henrik won the Hart Memorial Trophy as league’s MVP and led the league in points. In 2010-11 Daniel captured the Art Ross and was voted by the NHL Players Association as the league’s most outstanding player. It was in this time frame that Henrik led the league in assists for three straight years. During that time, Daniel netted 100 goals. They made the playoffs in 11 of their 17 seasons, making the Stanley Cup finals one time in 2010 and losing to the Boston Bruins, ironically the city of that fateful 1999 draft.
You can’t really talk about one of the Sedin twins without including the other. Generally, that would be unfair, but for these two it is not only fair, but also very appropriate. Fittingly, in their final home game, Daniel scored his second goal of the night, an overtime winner to beat Arizona.
Interestingly, there are currently 16 year old twins, Max and Joel Wahlgren, playing in the Swedish Junior League who are eligible for the 2018 draft. The Sedin’s wore 22 and 33 on their jerseys and the Wahlgren’s wear 44 and 55. This year’s draft, by the way, happens to be in Vancouver. While it makes an interesting side note, the path and careers of the Sedin twins are once in a generation (or longer) happenings. While the romance of a sequel may be fun and fanciful, it is unfair to put that kind of pressure on anyone and these kids are not at that level to begin with.
It would have been great to see the Sedins hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup at some point, but they skate into the sunset owing Vancouver and the NHL nothing. Perhaps the next time we get to celebrate them will be in Toronto at their Hall-of-Fame induction. Which will hopefully, and appropriately, be together.