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Dear Vancouver

Daniel and Henrik Sedin write an open letter to Vancouver in The Player's Tribune

by Daniel and Henrik Sedin @Canucks / Vancouver Canucks

Dear Vancouver,

Before this season begins, we wanted to write a letter to the city, and to everyone who has supported us for the past 17 years. Aside from being brothers, we have always been best friends, and we have played together on the same line since we were 12 years old, so we wanted to do this together, too.

Daniel Sedin

When I think of Vancouver, I think about one thing: Home. We came here as 20-year-old kids, and we were just trying to stay as far away from the coach as possible at practice. We had no idea what our potential could be, or how long we would stay. But we have grown into men in this city, we have raised our children here, and we have made so many memories over the years. Of course, we're not so young anymore.

Henrik Sedin

When I wake up in the morning, I still think we're 26.

Daniel

But obviously we are not 26. We're 36. And with one year left on our contracts, many people are asking us what the future holds. When the time is right, we will sit down with management and discuss it. People say our window for winning a Cup has closed, but we have said it before, and we will say it again. We won't play anywhere else. If we are going to win a Stanley Cup, if we are going to achieve our dream, we'd only want it to be in Vancouver. If we did it anywhere else, I don't think it would feel the same.

Henrik

We are Swedes, but this is our home. The first time that really hit me is when we went on one of our bike rides up the mountain. In the summertime, we love to wake up at five or six in the morning on Fridays and start riding way out by the airport. We head north towards the mountains and wind our way through the city. Then we hop on the Stanley Park Causeway and start the climb up towards the Lions Gate Bridge. Then up Capilano Road - and everybody in Vancouver knows what's next.

The Grouse Grind.

Almost three kilometres straight up Grouse Mountain.

It definitely beats you up, but coming down the mountain in the gondola with a coffee in your hand is the best feeling in the world. You can see all of Vancouver as the sun is coming up. There's nothing better than that. It never gets old. I don't really know how to describe it. It's just home.

Daniel

We have been incredibly lucky not only to play in Vancouver, but to play here together. I never thought it would happen. That's just not how things work in the NHL. Heading into the draft in 1999, I thought we'd go off to different teams and that would be that. We had heard some rumors, but we really felt that way until about five minutes before the first pick was made. Thomas Gradin, the Canucks Swedish scout, and Brian Burke, the GM, came up to us in the stands. They told us they had made a few moves and were going to take us second and third overall.

Henrik

Markus Naslund. That was my first thought. Markus was from our hometown in Sweden.

Daniel

We knew a little bit about Vancouver because of Markus and Thomas, but you would almost never see the Western Conference teams on TV in Sweden because of the huge time difference. It was only Rangers and Leafs on the news. We didn't actually pay that much attention to the NHL overall. We just wanted to play for Modo, our local club. That was our dream.

Henrik

For Swedish kids - at least in the '90s - the NHL was still the unknown. I think we watched our first full NHL game when we were 16 years old. So we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. I remember the year before we came over to the NHL, our agency invited us out to Penticton, B.C., for this three-day camp. I don't remember a lot from those few games, but I do remember playing against one guy.

Daniel

Joe Thornton.

Henrik

Joe Thornton. He was a year older than us, but he was like a man among boys. He was just huge. Every time I got close to him, he'd knock me right off the puck.

Daniel

I remember sitting on the bench watching him, thinking, How good is this guy? We are seriously going to play in the same league? It was kind of a whirlwind.

Henrik

We spoke to Markus on one of our first trips over. He told us about Vancouver. He explained how we were going to fall in love with the city and the people. I think he knew that we were a bit overwhelmed at first. He had been in a similar situation a couple of years before. That sort of support from him really meant a lot to us in the early stages of our career.

Daniel

And then everything was perfect from there. No problems.

Henrik

Exactly. No, obviously, our first few seasons here were hard. We weren't physically where we needed to be, and the criticism was a lot to take. We had been built up a lot in Sweden. People told us how good we were from the time we were 15, right up to the NHL draft. And now, here we were being told the style we played wasn't right for the league. That everything we'd done since we became linemates at 12 years old wasn't going to work here.

There were nights when I'd go home and not turn on a radio or TV for days because I didn't want to hear what was being said about us. During the '04 lockout, when we were back in Sweden, I wondered how we could come back and become the players the Canucks drafted us to be. We worked really, really hard physically during that time to be a bit more like Bert, Markus and Brendan.

Daniel

When we came back, we could see our work paying off. We also found a linemate who let us play our game in Anson Carter.

Henrik

He knew how to be successful in the league. He helped us work on our cycle game down low because he gave us that confidence to get in those gritty areas and be physical. He was sort of the opposite of us.

Daniel

When we started playing with Anson, it was an eye-opener for me. That's when I realized that we can play in this league, and we can be really good. Before that season, every time we would go back to Sweden in the summer, a part of me would think, Can we really do this? Should we just stay here? Everything clicked for us because of Anson. He's probably why we're still here at 36 years old.

Henrik

When Markus left in 2008, that's when we sort of knew we had to be the guys. We had some talented teams over the next few seasons, and we had a lot of personal success, but for me, the thing that I think about all the time is the 2011 Cup run. That was a really special time in the city. I remember driving into downtown before the games, and you'd see 75-year-old ladies wearing our jerseys, and then right next to them, seven-year-old kids wearing our jerseys. To me, that was so neat. It's a special feeling when an entire city is behind you.

Daniel

It's still hard to talk about what happened against Boston in the finals. It was like climbing to the top of Mt. Everest and then having to turn around with four feet left.

Henrik

After Game 2, when we went up 2-0, we didn't let our minds wander. We were focused heading over to Boston. It's just … I'm not sure - it's hockey. It's just the way it goes sometimes. I try to remember all the good from those few weeks. The fans on the street, the atmosphere, the celebration.

Daniel

We went up to a suite after Game 7 with our families to eat some dinner. Watching the smoke rise from the riots and seeing everything happen on TV - it just broke my heart. I felt empty.

Henrik

It was just some people acting stupid. What people don't understand, and what I want them to understand, is how supportive everyone was to us in the weeks after the finals. It was such a roller coaster ride that month. I was just exhausted. Mentally, physically, I didn't have anything left. It's the hardest trophy in the world to win and when you're that close … hurts isn't the right word. It's beyond that. But we still had to take our kids to school. We had to go out into the world. And everyone we met was really supportive. Not a single person said a bad word to me. Just support, support, support. We will never forget that.

Daniel

We always believe in our team, but we're not dumb. We understand how the NHL works and what it takes to be a Cup contending team. Every club has to go through periods when they aren't playing their best and changes need to be made. We weren't expected to make the playoffs in 2015 but we did, and we should have played better against Calgary.

We know that anything can happen in hockey and that brings us back to the rink everyday. The team we have heading into this year is young and they're going to be a lot of fun to play with. That's why our focus right now is simple. We're going to take this year to work hard and build something special with the young guys around us. And when it ends, we'll see where we're at and what we want to do. 

Henrik

If we're going to win a Cup, we only want it to be with Vancouver - that will never change. And if the moment has come and passed already, then so be it. This is my home. This is our home. This is our family's home. Vancouver has given us so much and we've tried to give everything we have in return. So we will do our best to teach this new generation of young guys.

Daniel

Bo Horvat has grabbed onto that quickly. It's a little unusual, because he's a young guy, but he's already a leader. We don't have to do much when somebody isn't doing the right thing, we know Bo will get on them. He's in first every day and out last. You can see in him that desire to improve everyone around him - you can't teach that.

Henrik

I have to say … when we met Jonathan Dahlén after his trade from Ottawa last year … that was the first time I really felt old. I mean, we played with his dad! I was like, This guy could be my kid.

Daniel

Our hope is that these kids can fall in love with Vancouver the same way we did. It is crazy how quickly the time has gone by. We are not 26, no matter what Henrik says. We're 36. So you start realizing that your time is coming to an end, eventually. We're going to take this year and appreciate everything about it, and never look too far ahead. Who knows, we might have a few more years left in us. Maybe we need to speak with Jagr.

But whatever happens, we are Canucks, and we will always be Canucks, and this will always be our home.

Sincerely,

Henrik and Daniel

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