Daniel and Henrik Sedin are no strangers to high-level international hockey with Team Sweden. The twins won a gold medal at the 2006 Olympics, and were on the 2010 team in Vancouver. In 2014, Daniel won silver while his brother stayed home due to injury.
Now, before they suit up for their World Cup of Hockey opener against Russia on Sunday, this tournament feels different.
With the likes of Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom retired, and Henrik Zetterberg injured, Daniel and Henrik are the unquestioned leaders of this world hockey power.
Over the course of their careers in Vancouver, we’ve become accustomed to the praise that their teammates and coaches give them.
But here, in Toronto, with the best players in the world, their character and work ethic still stands out.
“They’re the nicest guys ever,” Team Sweden teammate Victor Hedman said. “They’re the hardest working guys I’ve ever seen.”
Hedman is from Ornskoldsvik, the same hometown as the Sedins in Sweden. He lives a few houses away from Daniel in the summer and has skated with them every summer since he came into the NHL.
“When they come to work, they work hard. You can ask anyone, the way they prepare themselves for every season. I think that’s why even though they’re a little bit older now, they’re still at the same level, producing a lot.”
“It’s not a fluke. It’s hard work.”
Hedman, who is 25 years-old and one of the best defencemen in the NHL, clearly looks up to the Sedins. His comments about the soon to be 36-year-old veterans went beyond the hockey player cliches.
“They’re just tremendous people. You admire them, you look up to them. The way they prepare themselves before every season is something that I’ve taken after and I really want to do every year too.”
Along with linemate Loui Eriksson, who Hedman referred to as their ‘cousin’, the Sedins will be counted on to run the show. They’re the first line and they’re on the first power play unit.
With Henrik Lundqvist in goal and arguably the best defensive group in the tournament, Sweden is a contender at the World Cup, but they have an extremely tough road ahead of them.
They’re grouped with Russia, Finland, and North America. They need to finish top-two in order to advance, where they’ll likely be greeted by Canada or the United States in the semi-final.
If Sweden is to win this tournament, it might just be the crowning achievement for the best players in Canucks history.