Pitted in a friendly tug-of-war with a three-month-old German shepherd police service dog, Valter got all he could handle before getting the best of Hunter.
It only made sense the two would pair off as Henrik met with Vancouver Police Department chief constable Jim Chu because a clash between the police and rioters after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final was the reason for the visit.
Last Friday the Vancouver captain, son Valter, and Canucks chairman and governor Francesco Aquilini toured the police station for nearly an hour thanking as many officers and staff as they could for their tireless efforts, especially regarding the recent riots in downtown Vancouver.
Things escalated quickly following Vancouver’s 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 and before anyone knew what was happening, cars were being flipped and burned, buildings vandalized and general mayhem had taken over.
Valiant riot squad officers like Sgt. Ken Athans stood their ground amongst the chaos, despite being heavily outnumbered. Their organized retaliation, which included firing tear gas, pepper spray and flash bombs, led to a timely dispersal of the agitated rioters.
Athans was one of the first 10 riot officers to arrive at the corner of Homer St. and West Georgia St. and along with an unarmed Emergency Health Services worker, the unit held back the crowd until backup arrived.
In all the commotion Athans was struck in the head three times, twice by unidentified objects and once by a hefty fence pin that left a wicked dent in his riot helmet.
Henrik signed the lifesaving helmet during the visit and it will now enjoy an early retirement.
“Now I have a nice reminder when I look at my helmet instead of just the gouge,” said Athans. “Nobody ever thought something like this would happen, but it did and we did what we had to do. We’ve received great public support, but to have Mr. Sedin here saying thanks really means a lot.”
It was indeed all about simply saying thank you for Henrik. He and brother Daniel have called Vancouver home for more than 10 years, they’ve both had children in the city and are raising families here; they know how incredible Vancouver is and that what happened during the riots doesn’t reflect the city or Canucks fans.
Unfortunately, that’s not what was being said as far away as back home in Sweden.
That tone changed drastically a day later when word spread about just how exceptional the Vancouver police were at containing and extinguishing the situation.
“It was important to show the support we give them,” said Henrik, who will spend part of the summer in Sweden. “They show up everyday throughout the year, but especially after Game 7 with what happened and how it ended.
“First when the news came out it was a lot of bad publicity for Vancouver, but the riots ended and with how fast it ended, I think that was the main story back home.”
The main story in the police station for weeks to follow will be Henrik’s visit as every officer he greeted was truly touched the Canucks captain took the time to stop in.
Hoping between floors to ensure no officer was missed, Henrik shook the hand of a burly man in full police gear, a Terminator looking officer giving off an aura of Don’t mess with me, who was so thrilled he looked like a teenager at a Miley Cyrus concert as he exclaimed: “I’m never going to wash that hand again.”
Chief constable Chu didn’t shriek during the visit, at least not while I was around, but he definitely appreciated Henrik, Francesco Aquilini and the Canucks thinking of his crew.
“A lot of the police officers that Henrik met today and that Mr. Aquilini met, were on the front lines and to know the community cares about them and know the Canucks care about them, means a lot to the officers and all our staff,” said Chu, who is proud of the way Vancouver responded to the riots.
“I think the city is now moving on and we’re all proud Vancouverites. This is a great city, it’s a great province and I think the whole province is getting together and saying, let’s show what’s great about our city and our province.”
The Vancouver Police Department is asking for your help in providing photos, videos and tips from the riots. Click here for more information.