To paraphrase The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan’s 2008 benchmark superhero film, Henrik and Daniel Sedin were the heroes Vancouver needed, not the ones it deserved.
When the twins first came to the city as a result of some Brian Burke witchcraft and wizardry, many fans didn’t think much of the pair. They were often called “soft”. At the very least, they certainly didn’t possess the natural grit and toughness that star players had to display, or so it went.
You haven’t had a truly asinine sports conversation in Vancouver unless someone has referred to the Sedins as ‘The Sisters’; an insult that’s as juvenile and ill informed as the riots that plagued two of the city’s Stanley Cup runs.
And though many of those voices were so thoroughly silenced by the two impressive Swedes, it’s apparent that the Sedins never got the respect they deserved, and still don’t.
There shouldn’t be any debate about it: the Sedins are the best Vancouver Canucks of all time.
Yes, it’s always hard to separate and judge different eras. But it really shouldn’t be too much to ask fans of every age group to come to an agreement on this. Stan Smyl propped up a decent team and took it on an unlikely ride; Trevor Linden was a heart and soul player; Pavel Bure was among the most electrifying humans that have ever played hockey; Markus Naslund was a star; Roberto Luongo was among the best goaltenders of his generation.
Many teams in the NHL have an obvious answer when the question of best player in history is asked. The Canucks never really had that. They do now.
It’s very hard not to talk about the twins’ character when describing what they brought to the Canucks. It’s not necessarily a part of how they performed on the ice, but it’s extremely rare to find in NHLers these days.
The Sedins were never given another star as a linemate. Yet they didn’t once complain. Instead, they made lethal scorers out of Anson Carter and Alex Burrows.
They never made a deal out of being abused by the fans in their early days, choosing instead to give back to the community.
They didn’t ask to go to a contender when things got bad in the last few years. Instead, they gamely faced the media each and every night, wearing each and every loss, even when the state of the team wasn’t remotely their fault.
And yet, none of that is why they are the greatest Canucks ever.
They are the greatest Canucks ever because they dominated the league like no one in the franchise ever did. The stats themselves are staggering. 1068 points for Henrik, 1038 for Daniel. Both are more than 250 ahead of the next highest Canuck (Naslund), and that’s with missing a season and a half to the lockout.
In all, it was 17 seasons, almost all of them in which the Sedins could be counted on as first-line players.
And yes, in the coming days and weeks, fans in Vancouver will be regaled with tales of their glory.
But even when they were at the best, they took heat from fans. Some still thought they weren’t tough enough. Others found them boring and claimed they were tired of how they played.
It happens to stars from other markets, but normally it’s because of some perceived attitude problem. That was never an argument one could levy toward the Sedins, so their play was criticized when clueless fans or members of the media got bored.
Can you imagine Joe Thornton taking heat in San Jose for passing too much, as Henrik was often burned for? How about fans in Pittsburgh deciding they just think Sidney Crosby should hit more?
So here’s an apology. To the Sedins, yes, for having to endure the most mindless of criticism during their 17 seasons. But also to the educated, forward-thinking fans who will truly miss the twins and know that what they brought to the city and the team will never be replicated.
Remember your friends and coworkers who presented archaic, ice-cold takes about the twins, and remind them of their past injustices when they attempt to celebrate the character and play of the Sedins.
Maybe, in time, all of those misguided jabs at the twins will be forgotten. For some, including the Sedins themselves, they definitely already are.
And that’s a good thing. The only thing that should be important now is remembering them as the individuals they were and the dominant players they proved themselves to be on the ice.
The Sedins are the two best players in franchise history. In fact, it’s not at all close.
The twins are riding off into the darkness like Batman did into the streets of Gotham. But they’re doing it differently. They aren’t coming back for a worsened sequel. They’re going out while they still have gas in the tank, while they’re still effective players.
Maybe in time this city will have accepted how much the Sedins gave to it.
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