-- Pressure? What pressure?
The way Henrik Sedin
is discussing expectations for this coming season, you'd think the Vancouver Canucks
' center was coming off personal-best 60 points last season instead of one in which he won the Art Ross
and Hart Trophies.
Sedin scored 29 goals and assisted on 83 others for a League-best 112 points in his best NHL season to date. Along the way, he became the club's all-time assist leader passing Trevor Linden
, eclipsed Pavel Bure
's single-season points record and established a new Vancouver single-season assists record, surpassing his own previous record from 2006-07.
He got the Art Ross
Trophy for leading the League in points – then took home the Hart Trophy as MVP, beating out the likes of Alex Ovechkin
, Sidney Crosby
and Ryan Miller
for the award.
"There's going to be more talk about points and stuff like that and we know that we have to produce, it's no different this year," Sedin said as the Canucks opened training camp. "I've said it before -- if I end up with 82 points and we win our division, I think everyone is going to be happy. That's what it's all about."
Entering his 10th NHL season, Henrik has come to the realization that points mean nothing without a run to the Stanley Cup to back it up. The Canucks have been ousted from the postseason by the Chicago Blackhawks
in the Western Conference Semifinals in each of the past two springs.
All the personal accolades in the world mean nothing without a Stanley Cup.
"This year's got to be about winning, that's the bottom line, that's what been missing for this team," he said. "I know there will be a lot of pressure from outside if I'm not producing at a high level like last year, but I've dealt with it before, so it's not going to be a big problem."
Twin brother Daniel Sedin
wasn't showered with praise for his 2009-10 performance; he flew under the radar after missing 19 games with an early-season broken foot, but finished with compiling 85 points in just 63 games. The twins took the summer to jab at each other -- Henrik boasting about his awards, Daniel using his higher points-per-game stat as a rebuttal. But now it's mid-September and time to turn the page toward a new season.
"We're coming into this year fresh," Daniel said, "and we're going to have to work as hard as we did last year to have a good season and help this team. We would like to have as good a season as last year, but if we're in the playoffs, I'll be happy."
The Canucks look to be more than just a playoff-bound team this season. With the tinkering general manager Mike Gillis did this offseason bringing substance to the third and fourth lines and shoring up the defense, all the pieces seem to be in place for a run that extends past the second round.
Even the Sedins feel there's something in the air regarding the Canucks -- and it isn't just lofty expectations.
"It's the first time since I've been here that there's been this kind of buzz around this team, and we're going to have to talk about it," Henrik said. "There is going to be a lot of pressure from outside. Our division is really tough. We've lived in this city a long time, we know the pressure from the fans and the media, and we've learnt to deal with it."
"Everyone knows when they play us they're playing a good team," added Daniel. "You need to be ready for that, but it was the same last year. We should look at it as positive, if teams are afraid to play us it's a good thing"
Both Henrik and Daniel figure to have solid to exceptional seasons – how good or exceptional remains to be seen. So does whether one or both will add a letter to their uniforms.
With Roberto Luongo
relinquishing the captaincy, there's a void at the "C" and both Sedins are candidates for it as the longest serving members of the team.
"You're going to have to put letters on some guys," Henrik said. "But we have a core group of guys who are all leaders in different ways, it's not going to be about who has the 'C's' and who has the 'A's,' and that hasn't changed from last year."