Now fresh into retirement, the twins are shifting their focus from a life spent on the ice to a more family-focused phase — they’re even coaching their kids’ soccer teams — and have had time to look back on the 17 seasons they shared with the Vancouver Canucks.
And while they’ll surely be remembered for the gorgeous goals, assists and all-around incredible plays on the ice, the greatest legacy they hope they’ve left is one you can’t quite define on the score board: leadership.
“I think that we were always inclusive. We would always include the young guys, we’d always treat them with a lot of respect — the same way we were treated when we came into the league,” Daniel Sedin said during a special in-studio appearance on Canucks Central at Noon on Friday. “I think the new guys coming in, they always felt welcome and a big part of the team. Regardless of what we did on the ice, I think off the ice is more important to us.”
“For us, we tried to come in every morning and be appreciative of the life we had and we were fortunate to be able to play in the best league for a lot of years,” Henrik said. “When we came in, it didn’t matter if Daniel had scored four goals the night before or if we’d lost 5-2, we tried to come in every morning, be positive, and do the things that you have to do if you’re a professional hockey player. And that’s what we’ve done throughout the years, and that’s what made us successful.”
The beloved Canucks legends addressed several topics during the hour-long chat, which is definitely worth a listen, above. Here are a few excerpts from the conversation:
On their first impressions of retirement:
“It’s felt really good. It’s tough to watch playoffs now for sure, but that’s the case every year when you miss it. Other than that, it’s felt good.”
On the one year they spent playing apart from each other:
“In 1996-97, Daniel played for the Elite League team in Modo and I didn’t. I think that was the first time where we played apart in hockey. He played every game pretty much, in the first season, and I was scratched. I played with the junior team. That was almost a full year of us not playing together.”
On what would have happened had they not both been drafted by Vancouver:
“It’s tough to imagine what would’ve happened. I can’t even think about it. We’re so grateful that we were able to play on the same team, because who knows? It might have been a short career.”
On playing out those last few games after announcing their retirement on April 2:
“Even making the decision to come out with the announcement was, we really didn’t know what to expect. We wanted to play those last few games and kind of keep it quiet, but talking to the team and them wanting to do something was special. The way it ended up was something we’ll remember forever.”
On when, exactly, they knew it was time to retire:
“It’s tough to pinpoint a date. I think it’s something we talked about all year. We knew it was the last year of our deal, we were going to have to make a decision based on a lot of different things.
“Throughout the year we put a lot of thought into it and around Christmas maybe or the weeks after that, I think it became clear to us.”
On where their final home game ranks in their shared career:
“It ranks very high for us. It felt like a playoff atmosphere, and even though you could feel it, no one was really nervous about the game. The score didn’t really matter for the fans.
“I think it was good for our young guys to see how Rogers Arena can be when it’s packed and has that kind of atmosphere. So it was very special for us, but also for the younger guys. A lot of them had never seen that before, so that made it special.”
On learning leadership from players like Marcus Naslund and Trevor Linden:
“I think for us when we came in, we didn’t talk to those players a lot but we watched them — each and every day, what they did, if they went to the gym, how hard they worked in practice, how they acted around fans and media. That’s something we did when we were young and I hope that the young guys now do the same thing. I don’t think you need to talk to them so much as if you can watch and learn. I think that’s equally as important.”
On where they see the Canucks’ leadership going forward:
“I think for sure when we stepped away there’s going to be other guys that are going to be more vocal or take on that role because we’re leaving. I think it’s very natural to maybe sit back or not take charge when you have older guys around, so that’s going to be one way of getting more leadership. There are guys in the room that are big leaders right now, that we’ve seen in the past couple of years. The older guys — [Brandon] Sutter, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev is a leader in his own way. New guys coming in like [Michael] Del Zotto and [Sam Gagner] as well. So they have leadership. And also in the young group, you have a different kind of leadership, maybe, with Bo [Horvat] and even Sven [Baertschi] and those guys. There’s a lot of guys in there, and they’re going to have a chance now to step up.
On watching the progress of Elias Pettersson (who just signed his entry-level deal):
“He looks amazing. I’ve only seen highlights and little bits and pieces here and there but he looks like the real deal. But you don’t want to put too much pressure on him because I’ve seen a lot of really good NHL players come over and play on a big rink back in Europe and they have not been as good. So it’s a different game, but he has the tools to succeed.”
On if (or when) they’ll be back in the NHL… in some capacity:
“We talked about this before we retired, too. If you were to ask that five years ago, we would’ve said ‘no way.’ But I think now we have a lot of knowledge and we’ve learned a lot of things from a lot of great teammates, coaches, and management too. I wouldn’t say no. But not right now.”