From the Canucks to the Hall of Fame, the reunion between the Sedins and Luongo is special

Brian Burke speaks on Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who he drafted while with the Vancouver Canucks, being elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame along with former Canuck Roberto Luongo, and shares his support for Toronto's famous Pride Parade.

VANCOUVER — There were two rules Henrik and Daniel Sedin gave Trevor Linden when he joined their line soon after the twins left Sweden for the Vancouver Canucks and the National Hockey League.

Rule No. 1, Linden recalled Monday, was do not pass the puck back to the point in the offensive zone because a defenceman is always likely to shoot and the Sedins probably won’t get the puck back.

And Rule No. 2, when the Sedins have the puck, stay away. Don’t bring another defender over to them but find space and be ready for a pass because the Sedins were going to play their way into an opening.

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And for 17 seasons, the Sedins did, combining for 2,636 regular-season games and 2,111 points.

But it wasn’t these impressive scoring totals that earned the 41-year-olds Monday’s selection to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Players with more points individually than the Sedins are still awaiting that phone call from the Hall in Toronto.

It was the uniqueness of the Sedins that made them Hall-of-Famers, how they spent their entire careers beside each other playing a style of inventive, intuitive possession hockey unlike anything the NHL had witnessed.

“And the most fascinating part,” Linden said, “was that they didn’t do it through speed and power and raw physical ability that we see so much (in current NHL stars). It was through their creativeness and thoughtfulness and just the tactical way in which they worked with one another. Their ability to create was really, really special. I don’t know that the game had seen that before. I mean, there was Wayne Gretzky and Jarri Kurri, Brett Hull and Adam Oates; there have been great duos. But I’m not sure they had that type of tenure for that long and did it the way (the Sedins) did.

“It was the small spaces that was so cool about them — their puck-touches to areas. We’d never seen that before, right? Like, just bumping the puck into dead space for their brother to skate into. They were always moving. They really had a different way of playing the game. We out here on the West Coast, we get it. We saw it so much and it was magic. Like, pure magic.”

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Enough others saw it, too, for the Sedins — now working in player development for the Canucks four years after their retirement — to be first-ballot Hall-of-Famers in a Class of 2022 that includes, incredibly, former teammate Roberto Luongo and one of the twins’ Swedish idols, former Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson.

The Hall of Fame also added Finnish hockey player Riikka Sallinen and, in the builders’ category, Herb Carnegie. The induction ceremony is Nov. 14 in Toronto.

The significance of these honours to the Canucks, a 52-year-old franchise still looking for its first Stanley Cup, can not be overstated.

Luongo, whose 489 wins are fourth all-time among NHL goalies, was indisputably one of the best at his position during a Golden Era for puck-stopping, and for eight of his 19 seasons played behind the Sedins in Vancouver when the Canucks were among the league’s winningest teams.

Inducted in 2012, Pavel Bure is the only other Hall of Famer associated mainly with the Canucks, and the explosive winger first asked out of Vancouver in his second season, eventually forcing a trade in 1998 by refusing to honour his contract.

The Sedins spent their careers with the Canucks, chose to live in Vancouver after retirement and then re-joined the organization last year under former general manager Jim Benning.

Luongo was traded back to the Florida Panthers in 2014, ending a two-year tragic comedy that saw him lose his starting job in Vancouver and demand out, only to find no one wanted him on his contract. It was a humbling, life-changing experience that saw the goalie from Montreal confront his failings and become, in his own words, a better person. It was his fallibility that endeared him — and still does — to the Canucks’ rabid fanbase.

“I do actually have some regrets,” Luongo said on the media conference call that followed Monday’s announcements. “Maybe I wish I would have handled myself a little bit better. Maybe I wasn’t as mature as I thought I was in my early years. With the failures you learn, and you become a better person and you grow up. I think that’s what happened towards the end of my stint there with the Canucks. It’s not anybody else but me. Unfortunately, that’s something that I have to live with. But I think going back there now, it’s always been awesome. People are so nice to me all the time, and I really appreciate that.”

Luongo and the Sedins acknowledged how special it will be going into the Hall of Fame with teammates.

“I got to practise against them every day, so that’s what made it even more special than the games,” Luongo said. “They’re great teammates, everybody loved them, great people. Not so great card players, but that’s for another day. I just enjoyed my time with them and getting to know them and I’m happy to see that they’re in management now as well, and we get to chat some more in the coming years.”

Luongo said he knew the Sedins “were getting in, but I didn’t know if I was.”

But, really, Luongo was the slam dunk. The question regarding the Sedins was always whether the 18 members of the Hall’s selection committee would see past their individual statistics to what the brothers accomplished together.

“Our goal was always to be the best players we could be, and we tried to help each other, too,” Daniel Sedin said. “The competitive side of us fuelled that, I think. Each and every day, wanting to beat Henrik, that was going on from when we were kids. If you lost, you suck it up and you move on and try to be better. I think we helped each other reach the fullest potential.”

They helped Luongo, too, and vice-versa. In public, especially in the years immediately following Luongo’s trade to the Canucks in 2006, the Sedins displayed very different personalities than their goalie. But that drive to be the best was evident in all. And so was their accountability, their willingness to face inquisitors and accept responsibility for whatever occurred on the ice. They were fiercely competitive and led by example.

That was the culture the Canucks had under these players. It is the culture the Canucks, under the new watch of president Jim Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin, are trying to rebuild years later.

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