VANCOUVER – With a second-period goal in a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers, Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks earned his 1,000th NHL point in front of an ecstatic Rogers Arena crowd on 20 January.
The milestone play was highlight-reel material. Henrik took a pass from his twin brother Daniel on a 2-on-1 rush and backhanded the puck through the legs of Roberto Luongo, his former Canuck teammate and Canada’s 2010 Olympic gold medal goalie, to open the scoring. The Canucks’ bench emptied to congratulate their captain, and then Henrik skated around, clapping for the fans.
“I think the best part by far was my teammates coming out on the ice and celebrating with me,” said Henrik. “That’s something I will remember forever.”
“It’s a lot of points,” added Daniel. “He’s played a long time with good teammates. So I think he’s very proud.”
Henrik Sedin becomes the first Canuck, fourth Swede, and 85th NHL player in history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. All three of his Swedish predecessors are legends, and all played with Sedin on the 2006 Olympic gold medal team in Turin Italy: Mats Sundin (1,349), Daniel Alfredsson (1,157), and Nicklas Lidstrom (1,142).
The 36-year-old Ornskoldsvik native has played his entire 16-year NHL career with Vancouver and became the captain in 2010. The 2010 Hart Trophy winner as league MVP is also Vancouver’s all-time leader in assists (767) and games (1,213).
His accomplishments are invariably linked to those of Daniel. Famed for their cycling tactics, they have an uncanny ability to find each other on the ice.
The former co-MVP’s of the Swedish elite league with MODO Ornskoldsvik were selected second (Daniel) and third (Henrik) overall by Vancouver in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. Henrik won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring leader with 112 points, while Daniel followed suit in 2011 with 104. Triumph and heartbreak merged in 2011 when Henrik led the Canucks in playoff scoring with 22 points as they lost Game Seven of the Stanley Cup final at home to the Boston Bruins.
The twins have racked up points with a rotating cast of linemates over the years, including IIHF veterans like Trent Klatt, Anson Carter, and Jannik Hansen. In the Sedins’ heyday, the best fit on right wing was arguably Alexandre Burrows, who peaked with 35 goals and 32 assists in 2009-10.
“It’s well-deserved for him,” Burrows said of Henrik’s milestone. “He’s been playing well for so long and he’s been such a big part of this team for a long time. He’s been such a leader, not only on the ice but also in the community and the city.”
“It’s been a very long ride, but a fun ride,” said Henrik. “Our old linemates have all given us something and made us better. Sometimes it might not be easy to play with us, but they’ve all done a great job. Trent Klatt, when we started out, to have him as a guy we could talk to and look up to, that was a good start for us.”
In IIHF play, Henrik’s resume is even more impressive.
Sedin led the 2000 IIHF World Junior Championship in Sweden in scoring with 13 points. He won bronze at the 1999 and 2001 IIHF World Championships before the 2006 Olympic gold, his biggest career victory. Yet the graceful, heady playmaker would play an even bigger role at the 2013 IIHF World Championship in Stockholm.
The Swedes, coached by Par Marts, broke the infamous “home ice curse” dating back to the Soviet triumph in Moscow 1986. After being air-lifted in from the NHL playoffs, Sedin delivered a whopping nine points in four games. He was named to the tournament all-star team as Tre Kronor celebrated their title in golden helmets at the Globen Arena.
Too often in this sport, the phrase, “He’s an even better person than player,” is bandied about. In Henrik Sedin’s case, it rings true. Throughout the ups and downs of his career, this surefire future IIHF Hall of Famer has consistently been respectful, friendly and available to both fans and media. In 2010, he and Daniel donated $1.5 million to help build a new BC Children’s Hospital.
Daniel, who has 968 career points, could also crack the 1,000-point plateau with an exceptionally strong finish to the season. And other NHL and IIHF legends have been chasing the mark as well this year. Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin hit 1,000 points on 11 January in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins with his goal 35 seconds in. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, with 989 points, should also get there soon.