For as long as he’s been alive, Henrik Sedin has been part of a package deal. That just comes with the territory for an identical twin. But any day now, the Vancouver Canucks captain will stand alone and apart from brother Daniel—and every other player who’s worn a Canucks uniform.
With every point he gains, Henrik closes in on the franchise’s all-time scoring lead. Through February 4, the 32-year-old’s career body of work included 171 goals, 582 assists, and 753 points, leaving him just three shy of Markus Naslund’s benchmark of 756.
It’s an accomplishment that Henrik claims he hasn’t put a whole lot of thought into or spent much time contemplating. He’s fully aware that it’s within reach now, but he knows that if he does his job and plays his game, the record will fall. The slick playmaker also realizes that if he’s setting up those around him, as he has regularly during his dozen years with the organization, the Canucks are likely to have success.
So although he sits on the verge of making franchise history, Henrik isn’t counting down the points he requires to reach the top of the ladder. He’s going about his business of trying to help the Canucks win games, and he’ll try to settle into his spot in the franchise record book the way he’s handled most things in his career: with little fanfare.
“We’ve got games to play, and I’m really not getting caught up in something like this,” he tells the Georgia Straight in an interview at Rogers Arena after a recent Canucks practice. “When you’re playing games—and playing big games—each and every night, it’s nothing you really think about. It’s like the Art Ross [the award for the NHL scoring leader, which he won in 2009–10] and those kinds of trophies—that when you’re done, when you’re retired, maybe you look back on your career.”
Far from retired at 32, Henrik gives every indication he has many solid years left in him. In fact, barring unforeseen circumstances, when he and Daniel are finished their time in Canucks uniforms they will likely be hundreds of points ahead of anyone else in franchise history. Henrik started this lockout-shortened season 29 points ahead of his brother, with only Trevor Linden’s 733 career Canucks points standing between them. Stan Smyl is fifth on the list with 673 points—and he figures into this story too.
The bonds that Henrik has forged with those he is passing mean the most to him. Daniel has been there every step of the way, but Henrik was also teammates with both Naslund and Linden for good portions of his time here, and he still sees Smyl, a senior advisor to Canucks general manager Mike Gillis, almost every day.
“I played with three of those guys, and Stan is always around and I see him on a regular basis, and he’s been great to us,” he explains. “And we all know what Trevor and Markus meant to both me and Daniel.”
The fact that Henrik will soon be handed the torch by Naslund is particularly meaningful. Not only do they hail from the same town—Ornsköldsvik, Sweden—they are friends who have cemented their spots in Vancouver Canucks history as scoring leaders and captains. And Henrik owes much of his success to Naslund’s leadership, especially at the beginning of his career, when times were tough and doubters weren’t exactly sold on the idea that one day a pair of redheaded twins would be the faces of the franchise.
“Early on, just having him around, growing up in the same hometown, and he saw what we went through, and I think he had to go through the same kind of things early in his career,” Henrik says. “Markus understood where we came from and that it wasn’t easy for us. That was the biggest thing.”
Naslund’s number 19 jersey hangs in the rafters at Rogers Arena with those of Linden and Smyl. And one day, the jerseys of both Henrik and Daniel will be added. But it won’t be for a while, because the Sedins know there is work to be done.
Henrik, an Olympic gold medallist in 2006, desperately wants to add a Stanley Cup to his trophy collection. He and the Canucks got a taste of playoff success in 2011, when they came up one win short in their bid to capture the cup. And after a rude first-round exit from last spring’s playoffs, Henrik has every intention of doing his part to lead the Canucks’ charge back up the postseason mountain.
The climb is a steep one, and the trek won’t be easy. But the same could have been said years ago about Henrik’s ascension to the top spot in the team scoring derby. Rarely flashy but ridiculously consistent over more than 900 games in the NHL, Henrik hasn’t been the kind of player to bring fans out of their seats. Instead, his on-ice vision and his wizardry with the puck often leave fans—and many opponents—shaking their heads in disbelief over his ability to create something out of nothing.
“Consistency is something that we’ve always tried to be good at: come in every day and do the same things, and that’s what’s going to make you successful,” Henrik says. “And also where we came from, to not have the success early on and have people believe in us and us trying to get better each and every year. I think the journey has been a great ride.”
And soon that journey will take Henrik Sedin into uncharted territory: he’ll go where no Vancouver Canuck has gone before.