VANCOUVER — They hold every significant scoring record in Vancouver Canucks franchise history. Now, after 17 seasons in Canucks uniforms, Daniel and Henrik Sedin have their numbers hanging in the rafters at Rogers Arena.
Wednesday’s retirement of Daniel’s No. 22 and Henrik’s No. 33 was the focal point of the Canucks’ year-long 50th-season celebration, and the highlight through three games of Sedin Week festivities.
The high level of respect commanded by the Sedin twins was made clear by the collection of VIPs on hand for the ceremony. Special guests included Canucks owners Francesco and Paolo Aquilini, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly, as well as the Sedins’ parents, older brothers, wives and children to go along with past and present general managers and former teammates.
The sold-out crowd at Rogers Arena rose to its feet for the first time for the introduction of Trevor Linden, the one-time team captain who returned as team president in 2014 and parted ways with the team in 2018. The cheers continued for Markus Naslund, whose number also hangs in the rafters, and the representatives of the Presidents’ Trophy-winning seasons in 2011 and 2012, particularly Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo.
To the strains of U2’s "Where the Streets Have No Name," the Canucks’ introductory song from those peak years, Daniel and Henrik waved to the cheering crowd as they walked to centre ice to along a carpet flanked by some of the awards they collected over the years — the Art Ross Trophy that Henrik won in 2009-10 and passed along to Daniel one year later, the King Clancy Trophy that Henrik captured in 2016 and the twins shared in 2018, the Hart Trophy that Henrik won in 2010, the Ted Lindsay Award (formerly the Lester B. Pearson Trophy) that Daniel took home in 2011, and the pair of gold medals that the twins won with Sweden at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Bieksa started the proceedings with a tribute that poked fun and was also heartfelt, emphasizing the impression the twins left with their accountability, work ethic, and their kindness.
"We love you guys," he concluded. "There’s no one more deserving of this honour. 'Skål!'"
"When I was asked to speak on their behalf, regardless of how you feel about it, you say yes, because it's just an honour to be a part of this night," Bieksa said after the ceremony. "I’d do anything for Danny and Hank."
"They're such good people," added Ryan Kesler. "Honestly, the two nicest people in hockey. I can’t say a bad thing about them, and they taught me so much, just by watching them. Just the way they were and how charitable they were off the ice. For them to ask me to come here, I didn't even think twice."
The twins’ efforts in the community are well-documented, including a $1.5 million donation in 2010 to help build a new B.C. Childrens’ Hospital. On Wednesday, it was announced that their Sedin Family Foundation was partnering with the Canucks for Kids Fund on a new legacy project that would be responsive to the community’s needs on an annual basis.
When Henrik took the microphone, he walked the audience through the twins’ 17-season NHL journey, starting from when they thought they’d be going to separate teams at the 1999 draft in Boston before Brian Burke swung a monumental trade to bring them both to Vancouver.
With the current Canucks watching from their bench, Henrik paid tribute to the coaches and mentors that helped shape their games. Daniel stepped in to thank ownership, teammates and support staff, then the brothers took turns paying tribute to their families before thanking the fans.
"To the people of British Columbia, we came here in 1999 and it felt like home from Day 1," summed up Henrik. "We want to thank you. To play in front of you has truly been an honour.
"To the best fans in this league, we will now join you in cheering for this team when they go for the Stanley Cup."
After that, it was time to raise the banners. With family and friends surrounding them, the Sedins watched their numbers ascend to the rafters in Rogers Arena, next to Markus Naslund’s No. 19, Pavel Bure’s No. 10, Trevor Linden’s No. 16 and Stan Smyl’s No. 12.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2020.