Daniel and Henrik Sedin, the first two brothers in NHL history to score more than 1,000 points apiece, announced their retirement from hockey on Tuesday.
The 37-year-old Swedish twins, who are completing their four-year, $28-million deals with the Vancouver Canucks, didn’t decide to step away from the game overnight or lightly. That’s not what you do when you’re former Olympic champions and NHL scoring leaders.
The Sedins, the highest-scoring players in franchise history, have proven they can still play this season, even though the Canucks will miss the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years. Daniel is second in team scoring (21-32-53) and Henrik sits third (3-45-48). But the two forwards from Ornskoldsvik are ready for a new chapter, which will begin after Vancouver’s last two regular-season games versus Arizona (5 April) and at Edmonton (7 April).
“We’re happy with our decision,” Daniel told a Rogers Arena press conference. “We’re really comfortable with where we’re at. We started to talk back in November a little bit. Then Christmas came and the trade deadline. It became clear to us that this was the right decision.”
After logging 17 seasons with Vancouver since 2000, this decision was driven largely by family considerations for both Sedins.
“Going on the road, leaving the kids and family at home, that’s been the toughest part the last few years,” said Daniel. “It’ll be fun to be around them a lot more.”
The Sedins said they plan to live in Vancouver for the foreseeable future, ruling out a return to MODO Ornskoldsvik, their original club, or the Swedish national team.
Their IIHF legends are secure. They teamed up to win gold at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, and led Sweden to World Championship gold in Stockholm in 2013, breaking the tournament’s “home ice curse” dating back to 1986. The Sedins also earned Worlds bronze together in 1999 and 2001, while Daniel added Olympic silver in 2014 in Sochi. And at the 2000 World Juniors in Skelleftea and Umea, Henrik led the tournament in assists (9) and points (13), while Daniel topped the goals derby (6).
In the NHL, they were sometimes more polarizing figures. For every teammate, opponent, fan, or media commentator who admired their elegant, magical style of cycling the puck and pulling off no-look passes, there was a naysayer who claimed they were not tough enough, too pacifistic, or too slow, especially in their early years.
However, the duo’s peak years offered a stark rebuttal. In 2010, Henrik, a dazzling playmaking centre, captured the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and the Art Ross Trophy with a league-high 112 points. Daniel, a sharp-shooting left wing, racked up 104 points to win the Art Ross in 2011, the year the Canucks famously lost Game Seven of the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins, and was also named runner-up for the Hart. They went through a long list of linemates, highlighted by Anson Carter and Alex Burrows, but they always made the guys around them better.
“People can think what they want about us on the ice,” said Henrik, who has captained the Canucks since 2010. “There are always going to be different opinions. Some fans like us, some fans don’t like us. The least you can do is come in and treat people like they should be treated, come in with a smile on your face. That’s what we’ve tried to do.”
Their consistent approach on and off the ice paid off. Henrik currently has 1,069 points and Daniel has 1,039. In all likelihood, Henrik will finish 65th in all-time NHL scoring behind Theoren Fleury and ahead of Dave Taylor, while Daniel will be 73rd behind Henri Richard and ahead of Bobby Smith.
Former teammate and current Canucks president Trevor Linden believes they should be enshrined in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame as well: “The Hockey Hall of Fame is all about special and uniqueness, and we’ll never see another two guys who have that sort of mental telepathy that they do. Just the way they played the game, so consistent throughout their careers, it’s been pretty special.”
GM Jim Benning acknowledged the ripple effect they’ve had on his organization, even during these lean years: “They’re excellent role models. They hold our young guys accountable. They set the standard of what it means to be a Vancouver Canuck. They get the message through to the young players.”
While Vancouver will keep rebuilding with budding stars like Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Elias Pettersson, the Sedins will continue to enjoy their lives in a city they’ve embraced since the Canucks drafted them second and third overall in 1999. Over the years, they’ve been famously devoted to charitable causes like the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. In 2010, they donated $1.5 million to help construct a new BC Children’s Hospital.
It’s safe to say few players will ever wear the Canucks logo or the Tre Kronor insignia with more skill, class, and distinction.