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Sedins happy to have numbers retired by Canucks in city they call home

Forwards opt to stay in Vancouver, where they each played 17 NHL seasons

by Kevin Woodley / Independent Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Henrik Sedin admits there were times early in their careers that he and twin brother Daniel Sedin thought about giving up on the NHL and going home to Sweden.

Criticized for failing to live up to the hype that came from being picked second and third in the 1999 NHL Draft by the Vancouver Canucks, there were moments, however fleeting, when the twins considered making their first NHL contract their last.

"There were times we were like 'Ah, let's just go back and play for MoDo,'" Henrik said of their hometown team in Sweden. "But it was very short periods of time, maybe just when you laid home at night and this little thought came into your head that we could leave."

All that makes this week's celebration of their 17-season careers with the Canucks all the more remarkable. Not only will they be the first brothers in NHL history to have their jerseys retired at the same time in a pregame ceremony Wednesday -- No. 22 for Daniel (because he was picked second) and No. 33 for Henrik -- but they'll do it in the city they still call home.

Almost 20 years after early criticism nearly drove them back to Sweden, and 20 months after retiring following the 2017-18 season, the 39-year-olds remain Vancouver residents.

"Our kids grew up here. We love it here. People have been respectful, nice. It reminds us a lot of Swedish people actually," Daniel said. "The city has been awesome, so we're Vancouverites."

The two greatest players in Canucks history have embraced that label. Henrik is the team's all-time leader in games played (1,330), points (1,070) and assists (830); Daniel is first in goals (393), as well as second in games played (1,306), assists (648) and points (1,041). They are the only brothers in NHL history to score at least 1,000 points each, but that hasn't stopped them from being fixtures at kids' schools and sporting events.

Video: 2018 saw the retirement of Daniel and Henrik Sedin

They kicked off this week's celebration by running a half marathon Sunday -- two local icons blending into a crowd of 2,000 somewhat easily despite running side by side in bibs bearing the numbers about to be retired.

"We try to run fast so they can't talk to us," Henrik said with a laugh. "That's something that I think has surprised us a little, that we can do that and there's comments, people looking maybe, but they always treat us with respect."

Daniel is even able to work as a volunteer crossing guard at the school his children attend.

"Gotta keep the kids safe," he said.

The Sedins believe they've adjusted smoothly to retirement mostly because they left on their terms, walking away after a season in which they were second and third on the Canucks in scoring. But they also think the transition has been eased by staying in Vancouver. It's allowed them to stay close the game and team, popping in on the Canucks at Rogers Arena from time to time.

"You hear a lot of stories about guys that walk away and there's depression, things that don't go as planned. For us it hasn't been the way," Henrik said. "It's really helps that we stayed here. If you retired and move back to Sweden right away, I think you get so far away from the game that it's going to hit your harder. We're around, we watch a lot of games, we can come down here and see all the guys, so we get that part of the game."

That they've also become such a big part of the community isn't a surprise to Trevor Linden, one of four other players to have his number retired by the Canucks.

"Anybody who comes in contact with these guys know that they're just down-to-earth, humble, hard-working family guys," Linden said, "and they can relate to that."

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