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Turbulent times

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

When Henrik Sedin was named Vancouver’s captain in September of 2010, Canucks GM Mike Gillis said it was because Henrik is an exemplary leader who inspires teammates.

That continues to be true in terms of Henrik’s on-ice play, attitude in the locker room and his overall presence as the 13th captain in Canucks history – just not 35,000 feet above the ground.

The Canucks flew from Minnesota to Chicago post-game Monday night and everything was just peachy during take off and for the first half of the flight. Then Air Canucks hit a few bumps, the fasten seatbelt sign went on, it hit a few more bumps before full on turbulence was had.

Turbulence and I go together like Katy Perry and songs from Jay-Z and Kayne West, and I thought I was alone. Behind the Lens photographer Jeff Vinnick, who sits beside me on the plane, just laughed as I clutched my armrests and stared out the window with my eyes bugging out of my head.

When we landed in Chicago Henrik and I walked to get our bags and he had the same look I did, that of someone jittered.

“You all right?” I asked.

“That was a bad flight,” he laughed, in the most serious way possible.

After practice Tuesday Henrik opened up about his fear of flying – on second thought, that’s not quite accurate.

“I’m not scared of flying, I’m scared of crashing, that’s my problem,” he laughed, again being incredibly serious.

It wasn’t always like this for Henrik, he remembers a time when he was as worry free as anyone else on board. Then, roughly seven years ago, he was on one of the worst flights he can remember and he began over thinking things.

The hour-and-a-half trip from Minnesota to Chicago was Vancouver’s 46th flight of the season; the Canucks will take 51 flights this year, not including pre-season and playoffs.

Henrik Sedin hasn’t missed a flight in the last seven years and he’s only missed six flights ever while with the Canucks (three during 2002-03 & three in 2003-04). Add all those numbers up and Hank has been in the air 592 times since being drafted by Vancouver.

Again, that doesn’t include pre-season or playoffs, or international play, or flights home to Sweden.

Crunching the numbers has Henrik worried.

“I’m a guy that likes to look at risks and chances and I think the more you fly, the bigger chance there is of something happening,” he smiled, despite us both being freaked out.

Nothing has and will ever happen on board Air Canucks (of course I just knocked on wood, please do the same), but Henrik remembers turbulent flights like he recalls the major milestones in his children’s lives.

“There’s been a few. Landing here in Chicago a few years back during the playoffs, that was bad, maybe the worst I’ve ever been through, it was extremely windy and it seemed like we were flying through the high-rises in downtown Chicago, just in and out and up and down. The Detroit one was bad, the flight home from LA this year was bad, there’s been a few.”

I can vouch for the Detroit flight, that one is still fresh in my memory what with all the snow and the de-icing and the pilot looking at the wing with a flashlight.

According to, the key to turbulence is either to calm yourself down by essentially thinking happy thoughts, or by immersing yourself in the problem to make it substantial and real so you can logically think your way out of it.

I take the calm approach, Henrik does not.

“I don’t do that. I’m scared sh*tless. My brother is not scared at all, Danny like flying, so he looks out the window and I ask him how it looks and if he sees anything. That’s the way I calm down.”

Those scratch marks on Daniel’s arm, those were from Henrik.

“Sometimes it’s kind of funny looking at him, but I try to support him the best I can,” said Daniel, who understands Henrik’s fear because he is a bit claustrophobic himself.

“Guys understand it too, it’s no fun, but he hears it from the guys too. It’s fun to see him like that sometimes, it could be just a little bump and he gasps and tightens up.

“I have no problem, I don’t like the turbulence either, but I’m not like him. I’m not going to panic.”

There is a solution for Henrik, it’s just not that realistic.

“I feel it’s a little bit easier to fly with my family than by myself,” said Henrik. “I have to be brave for my kids, they’re sitting next to me so I can’t be saying ‘oh no, this isn’t good.’”

At least we have each other.

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