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Common ground

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
The fate of the careers of Daniel and Henrik Sedin in Vancouver came down to the eleventh hour, but that proved to be as good a time as any for them to re-sign with the Canucks.

Leave it to a pair of Swedes to make Canada Day an even better holiday; there was already plenty of reason to celebrate on Wednesday and the Sedins added another by signing twin five-year contracts that keep them in Vancouver through the 2013-14 season.

While Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis, the man who orchestrated the deals, still has shaping to do to the team’s roster, it was clear when he met with the media that significant weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

Signing the two most coveted free agents on the market can have that affect.

“It’s great for us,” Gillis said. “They’re core players here, they’re key guys and now we can begin to build around them.

“They stepped up and made a commitment to us and we stepped up and made a commitment to them and I think any day when you’re heading into free agency and you sign the top two free agents that are out there, it’s got to be a pretty good day.”

According to Gillis, the common ground between the Canucks and Sedins that helped cement the deal was that neither wanted to lose the other.

The Sedins, who have finished one-two in team scoring for the past three seasons, have called Vancouver home since the Canucks drafted them second and third overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft and they had long said that playing on the West Coast was their top priority.

The numbers also had to make sense to retain their services, obviously, and that’s where Gillis is thought to have budged. At the same time the Sedins were reportedly in search of a long-term deal and that’s where their compromise came into play.

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. If only ever signing was that easy.

One notable detail of the deal involves the no-movement clause that Gillis agreed to. He had previously stated that clauses which keep players locked down to teams aren’t beneficial to anyone, but the uniqueness of this deal aided the second-year GM in making a big exception.

“The term was right, their age was right and it’s the most unique situation in hockey,” said Gillis. “There isn’t another one like it, there hasn’t been another one like it and it was the right thing to do in this circumstance with these two guys. You’re talking about two families, you’re talking about two key players and it’s quite clear that they play together and have to play together and want to play together so it was the right thing to do.”

It also seems that some face time between Gillis and the Sedins went a long way for both parties in essentially greasing the wheels for a deal to be done.

Not much was made of the fact that Gillis and Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman traveled to Sweden earlier this week to sit down with the twins and apparently there should have been.

Both Sedins were adamant that having Gillis and Gilman visit them demonstrated a lot of character, while Gillis said he wouldn’t have done the deal without seeing how dedicated the twins were firsthand.

“We had talked about (going to Sweden) earlier and I just felt that if we were going to enter into contracts of this magnitude with two players, that we had to be absolutely sure that everyone was completely committed to each other and that was the reason for going over there.

“It wasn’t like that, one final pitch, it was more of a philosophical discussion about where we were going with this team and what their roles were on the team and their level of importance.

"In my opinion, when you enter into contracts of this nature, those guys effectively become your partner and as partners they had to be comfortable with where we were going and with what we were trying to do and we had to be comfortable that they were perfectly happy and content with the situation we were presenting.”

This new partnership is already off to a glowing start and it only promises to get better from here.

During the 2008-09 season both Sedins improved their game over years past. Daniel recorded his second highest career output with 82 points, including a personal-best 51 assists, while brother Henrik added goal scoring to his skill set. The playmaker notched a career-high 22 goals to go with 60 assists and a career-high 82 points.

With the departure of veteran defenceman Mattias Ohlund from Vancouver, the Sedins are now the longest serving Canucks meaning in addition to points, they’ll be looked upon for leadership in a rainbow of situations.

The Sedins make the Canucks tick and just like their point-a-game output from this past regular season and playoffs, that isn’t about to stop any time soon.

The fate of the careers of Daniel and Henrik Sedin in Vancouver came down to the eleventh hour, but as the saying goes, better late than never.
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