The way Henrik Sedin is discussing expectations for this coming season, you’d think the Vancouver Canucks forward had a personal-best 60 points last year instead of an Art Ross Trophy campaign in which he set career-highs in goals, assists and points.
Henrik scored 29 goals and assisted on 83 others for 112 points in his best NHL season to date; along the way he became the club’s all-time assist leader passing Trevor Linden, he eclipsed Pavel Bure’s single season points record and established a new Vancouver single-season assists record, surpassing his previous record from 2006-07.
Oh and to top it all off, he was awarded the Hart Trophy edging out the likes of Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Ryan Miller for the award.
Pfft, what pressure?
“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,” said Henrik, as Canucks training camp opens in Penticton, B.C.
“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 solid run to the Stanley Cup to back it up. The Canucks have been ousted from the post-season by the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Semi-Finals the past two years and when the dust settled last season, sure Henrik had to make room for a pair of massive trophies on his mantel, but the Canucks failed to reach the third round of the playoffs. Again.
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,” said Henrik. “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.”
Daniel Sedin wasn’t showered in praise for his 2009-10 campaign; he was more of a silent assassin compiling 85 points in an injury-shortened season of 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,” said Daniel, “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 off-season bringing substance to the third and fourth lines and shoring up the defence, all the pieces seem to be in place for a run that extends past the second round.
You’ve heard that before, but 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,” said Henrik. “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 will have solid to exceptional seasons, that’s not to be disputed. Whether or not they can climb over the 100-point plateau as a duo remains to be seen, as does if either or both will be wearing letters as they do so.
With Roberto Luongo relinquishing the Canucks 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,” said Henrik. “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.”