Daniel and Henrik Sedin are loath to miss a shift, much less a game. They play through pain, and along the walls, and against the toughest defensive players the NHL has to offer.
If Henrik’s hip and leg seize up, as it did on Boxing Day during an overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers, he’ll stand on the bench and still take his regular shift.
If Daniel gets struck in the mouth by a puck and loses three or four teeth, as he did on Monday night in a 3-2 regulation loss to the Arizona Coyotes, he’ll be back before the end of the period.
The twins, unfairly labeled ‘soft’ throughout their NHL careers by myriad commentators and fans, wouldn’t have it any other way. Playing through pain is part of their job. It’s a rote expectation.
“I think he lost three or four (teeth),” Henrik said of the incident on Monday night that bloodied Daniel’s mouth and visor. “Just an accident that happened…
"Losing a few teeth is not a big deal, that shouldn't stop you from playing," continued Vancouver’s captain.
Daniel was unavailable to talk with the media postgame. He was receiving medical treatment, obviously.
“A lot better than me," was Henrik’s joking response on Monday, when asked how his brother looked after losing most of his front teeth.
After returning from his gruesome-looking dental emergency the Canucks’ 35-year-old star winger scored his 17th goal of the season. He beat Coyotes goaltender Louis Domingue – one of the rare NHL goaltenders who catches with his right hand – with a perfectly placed third-period slapshot. It was precisely the sort of cerebral goal that has been the Sedin twins’ calling card for more than a decade.
The twins’ game isn’t just skill and geometric excellence though. There’s a fire there too.
Henrik and Daniel are incredibly competitive and their professionalism shows through in their preparedness, in the way they treat the media, the fans and their teammates, and in their willingness and ability to play through pain. And to play effectively when they’re in pain.
In Vancouver this season the twins have done more with less. More times than not they’ve been the only worthwhile reason to watch a frequently overmatched club.
While battling father time and a small handful of injuries, the Sedins have carried a shallow team with no business being even remotely competitive. They have almost singlehandedly kept the Canucks in the thick of a playoff race.
“Those guys always play hard. They do, they fight through. They do what it takes to win, always and every night they do that,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said on Monday. “You can say a lot about them but we got to help them and give them more.”
That the Sedin brothers are fierce, tough competitors shouldn’t even be a topic of discussion. They shouldn’t need defending. And it’s time for the hockey world to take notice.
Stop the madness and let’s just agree that applying the soft label to Henrik and Daniel is tired, lazy and inaccurate.
So what if the twins both sport blank hockeyfights.com pages? Granted they don’t throw many big hits, but because they almost always have the puck, they don’t often have to.
The lack of fights, the lack of big hits, none of that makes the Sedin twins soft. Anyone who believes it does needs to look closer.
“They're not soft at all,” Canucks forward Derek Dorsett, currently tied for the second most fights in the NHL this season, told Sportsnet on Monday. “That's not true.”
Dorsett has made his living by standing up for teammates and doing the sort of yeoman’s work that the hockey commentariat has long romanticized. Where the twins are found wanting on the traditional hockey toughness scale, Dorsett checks all the boxes – willing fighter, big hitter, from a prairie town.
“Before coming in to Vancouver, I knew they had that (soft) label,” Dorsett said. “Playing against them I never thought they were soft though. They go to those hard areas. They usually get those heavy (defencemen), back in the day those Chris Pronger-types, the mean shutdown guys who are going to lay a licking on guys when they cross the blue-line.
“They don't retaliate,” Dorsett continued, “because they know when they get on the power play what they can do. That's a good toughness to have."
The lesson here, perhaps, has nothing to do with the twins and everything to do with those who’d label them soft in the first place. Because those off-base comments always seem to come from afar.
If you ask anyone who has coached or played with the twins, who have ever really had an opportunity to watch the Sedins conduct themselves on a day-to-day basis, you’re not going to hear the word ‘soft’ in the response.
“It's been an eye opener to play with them,” Dorsett told Sportsnet on Monday. “They're hard working guys, they're stars in a huge market.
“They're just humble, approachable guys who treat everyone the same."