Henrik and Daniel Sedin aren’t returning to the Vancouver Canucks as saviours.
Not yet, at least.
The Sedins met with the media today, one day after they were officially hired as “Special Assistants to the General Manager.”
To the surprise of nobody, they were polite and humble, beginning the press conference by thanking the Aquilini family and Jim Benning.
If they had egos, they would be checked at the door.
“We’re coming in as rookies. Old rookies,” Daniel said. “We want to come in and learn all aspects of this side of the business. We’re just excited to be back with the organization. We worked with so many great people throughout the years — great teammates, coaches, management. We’re excited to be back and we’re coming in with wide eyes and we’ll learn.”
The Sedins share a number of similarities with former teammate Trevor Linden, who they spoke to prior to accepting their new jobs, with regards to their place in Canucks lore and their stature within the community. The trio of former players were well-respected and viewed as having bright hockey minds. Their numbers all hang from the rafters at Rogers Arena.
But their entries into Canucks management couldn’t be more different.
When Linden was hired in 2014, he was given the title of “President of Hockey Operations.” He was 44 years old at the time, four years older than the Sedins are now, and tasked to lead the hockey operations department despite not having any NHL managerial experience.
The Sedins also don’t have any previous front office experience, but they’re not starting at the top. They’re starting small, and that’s by design.
“It’s taken some time,” said Henrik. “We don’t take this lightly. We wanted to make sure that we came in, in the right roles.”
Perhaps one day Henrik and Daniel will hold more glamorous job titles, and certainly the Canucks appear to be grooming them for that, as they’re going to be involved in all areas of hockey operations.
“They’re going to be involved in all the different aspects of what we do,” said Benning. “That’s from team building, talking about the types of players we want, what we want the team to look like. They’ll be part of our pro scouting meetings heading into the expansion draft here, be part of our free agent meetings when we talk about free agents or adding players to our group. They’re going to be involved.”
But if you ask the twins, there is no master plan.
“We have no game plan,” said Henrik. “We’re going to find our roles where we can do the best job we can and we’ll see where it takes us. But right now, we’re happy with this role and being able to help the team this way. We’ll see where it goes.”
It’s a sensible approach. While the Sedins were talented on the ice and well respected off of it, they have a lot to learn. By starting small, they’re putting themselves in a position to succeed.
“We care about this team”
While humble, the Sedins believe in their abilities. They want to help the Canucks succeed, and they think they have what it takes.
“We care about this team… This is a side of the game where I think we can help,” said Henrik. “To be able to come back and help is a great feeling. We’re not looking for fame again, let’s be clear with that. We’re hoping to come in and do a good job, and try to stay in the background as much as possible.”
On the topic of team building, the twins referenced the good Canucks teams they played on over the course of their careers.
“When you talk about contracts and successful teams and salaries in this era, it’s fairly easy if every player can outplay their own contract,” said Henrik. “That’s an easy way of becoming a good team. You want to have players that want to play here, and be successful here in Vancouver, and that’s the only way you can be successful.”
“I think we see hockey the same way… We have a good understanding of how you need to be successful in this league.”
While they obviously share a lot in common, the twins do disagree from time to time, which Henrik says is a good thing.
“There’s aspects where we might not agree, and I think that’s what you need in a good organization is a lot of discussion, and a lot of feedback from different people.”
The twins appear ready to roll up their sleeves with the part of hockey that they’ve never been involved in before.
“There’s [going to be] a lot of challenges,” said Henrik. “We’re excited to work with the hockey side, and with the players and coaches, and be a part of building a team. The business side and how things are run to make trades, for the draft and working with the scouts, how amateur scouting is working, and pro scouting. That is the part of the business where we have never been around.
“That’s going to be the toughest, and maybe the most exciting part.”