Sedin jersey retirement: the end of an era

Daniel and Henrik were class acts on and off the ice.

Number 22 and 33 hanging from the rafters of Rogers Arena. — Photo: CBC

By: Harvin Bhathal, News Writer

February 12, 2020 marked a special moment for the Vancouver Canucks, the city of Vancouver, and, most importantly, Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Two years after retiring from the NHL as some of the most prolific linemates in NHL history, the Sedin twins watched their jersey’s ascend to the rafters of Rogers Arena in what was a climactic end to Vancouver’s Sedin era. Kyle Bergh and Arjun Badh, members of the SFU Hockey team, shared their thoughts on the Sedin era with The Peak. 

The Sedins represented everything a hockey player and person should be. They were tough and persistent, yet complete gentlemen off the ice. They showed the city a certain level of grace night after night,” said Bergh.

Coming off a run in 1994 when the Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup Final only to heartbreakingly lose to the New York Rangers, the Canucks proceeded to have one of the worst seasons in franchise history in 1998–99. The team and city were ready for a new direction.

After orchestrating trades to acquire the second and third overall selections in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Canucks General Manager Brian Burke finally had the means to draft the players he had eyed all along: Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

Although their time in Vancouver had a tumultuous start, with the twins falling victim to all sorts of physical abuse from other teams, Daniel and Henrik set the foundation for what was arguably the most glorious era of Canucks hockey in the franchise’s history. 

Bergh shared his first memory of the Sedins from a Canucks game he attended with his dad. 

“I recall the fans being hard on them, including my dad. He made comments about how they were soft, and questioned their decision-making process to pass instead of shoot.” 

However, Bergh saw something in them that many others at the time didn’t. “I just recall leaving that game in amazement about their on-ice intelligence and how they were able to manage the puck so effectively,” he said.

The connection the Sedin twins formed on the ice by playing alongside each other throughout their careers is unprecedented in NHL history. From their first foray into hockey, to playing for their country at the Olympics and World Championships, to reaching the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the Sedin twins rarely played apart from one another. 

Daniel and Henrik led a run of mesmerizing play on the ice that, combined with the team results that had been elusive for so long, brought the Canucks to within one win of a Stanley Cup. Though the loss to the Boston Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final surely still stings, it doesn’t overshadow the years of sustained success the twins helped bring to Vancouver.

Though the Sedins led the franchise for many years, their run would not have happened if not for teammates such as Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, Jannik Hansen, and Kevin Bieksa, who were there to commemorate the career of the Sedins. Alongside them were Canuck legends Alex Burrows, Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden, and Stan Smyl.

The ceremony itself was beautiful, with an all-encompassing tribute video to their careers and work within the community as well as speeches from Bieksa and the Sedins themselves. 

“To the people of Vancouver and British Columbia, we came here in 1999 and it’s been home since day one,” said a visibly emotional Henrik during the ceremony. 

Asked about the ceremony, Arjun Badh said that,“The organization obviously cares a great deal about the Sedins and it was reflected in the quality of the [jersey] retirement ceremony.”

When asked about his favourite Sedin twin, Badh said, “When I think of ‘Sedin,’ they both come to mind, so they are equally respected to me.” 

On this note, Bergh added that, “I still probably wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.”

As the twins grew into bonafied NHL superstars, their legendary status within Canucks history did too. While they went through challenges on and off the ice, so did the city. Because of this, there is no doubt that Daniel and Henrik Sedin will always remain in the memories of Canucks fans in British Columbia and around the world.