Stepping into a management role with the team they spent 17 NHL seasons is another step in the hockey development of Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
Before their retirement in 2018, the Swedish twins had established themselves as two of the best players to ever wear a Vancouver Canuck uniform. The brothers have returned to the organization in the hockey operations department with the title of special adviser to the general manager.
“We’re coming in as rookies, old rookies,” Daniel Sedin told a video conference Wednesday. “We want to come in and learn all aspects of this side of the business.
“We worked with so many great people over the years. We are coming in with wide eyes.”
Henrik Sedin, who served as Canuck captain from 2010 to 2018, said it was important for the brothers to have a meaningful role with the club.
“We don’t take this lightly,” he said. “We didn’t want to just come in because of our names.
“It’s taken some time. We want to make sure we came in in the right roles, feeling we can do our best job.”
The Canucks missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six years this season with a 23-29-4 record for 50 points, leaving them last in the seven Canadian team North Division. The Canucks were 24th in the NHL in goals scored (148), allowed the sixth most goals (187), had the 25th ranked power play (17.4 per cent) and 17th penalty kill (79.9 per cent).
Henrik Sedin believes the Canucks have a talented young core with players like forwards Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, Nils Hoglander, Brock Boeser, defenceman Quinn Hughes and goaltender Thatcher Demko.
“We have a good understanding of what you need to be successful in this league,” he said. “We’ve been on a lot of very good teams.
“To creating a winning organization, you create the right culture. That’s something we truly believed when we played and what we had on good teams.
“It starts with the top players. You come in in the best shape you can, you train in the right way, you do the right things in practice and you lead the way on the ice when it comes to games. We want to try to help the young guys take the next step and become even better.”
Canuck general manager Jim Benning said the Sedins will be involved in all areas of hockey operations, including player evaluation, development and communication from the amateur to NHL level.
The brothers will participate in amateur and pro scouting meetings, and help the team’s planning for the draft, free agency and the deadline.
“They played on good teams,” said Benning. “They understood what good teams look like.
“They are passionate about wanting to do this. They are going to have a big voice in what we do here going forward.”
The Sedins will also work with the staff and coaches of the Canucks’ American Hockey League affiliate in Abbotsford, B.C., but they won’t be conducting practices or drills.
“We won’t put our skates on,” Daniel Sedin said with a laugh. “We haven’t skated for three years.”
The Sedins were part of the Canuck team that lost Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins. Vancouver didn’t win another playoff round until the 2020 playoffs. They failed to advance to the playoffs five of the six previous years.
Henrik Sedin leads the Canuck franchise in games played (1,330), assists (830) and points (1,070). He was the Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP in 2010.
Daniel Sedin is the franchise-leader in goals (393), power play goals (138), game-winning goals (86) and shots on goal (3,474).
The pair had their jerseys retired Feb. 12, 2020.
Henrik Sedin admitted the brothers will face a learning curve when it comes to the business side of the game, making trades and preparing for the draft.
“That is part of the business we have not been around,” he said. “That is going to be the toughest part and maybe the most exciting part.”
Daniel Sedin said turning the Canucks into Stanley Cup contenders could take time. He remembers how the core of the 2011 team evolved on and off the ice.
“We built for quite a few years, where we got better each and every day, each and every year,” he said. “We pushed each other to be better, we trusted each other on the ice and in the locker room. That’s what you want this core group to get to.
“That’s why we are excited to come in and see for ourselves what this group is all about. It can take a few years to get to that point.”
—Jim Morris, The Canadian Press