It's official. Daniel and Henrik Sedin are back in the fold.
The Vancouver Canucks' record-holders in nearly every major statistical category were introduced via a Zoom press conference Wednesday as the team's new Special Advisors to the General Manager.
It's a broad title, which will allow the twins to get involved in every aspect of the organization as they start learning about the business side of the game. According to Tuesday's press release, they will "learn and support all areas of the team's hockey operations including player evaluation, development and communication from the amateur to NHL level. They will work collaboratively with Abbotsford's AHL staff and coaches, participate in amateur and pro scouting meetings and participate in planning for the draft, free agency and trade deadline."
This big-picture approach seems tailored to their desire to build a strong foundation for their post-playing careers.
"We're coming in as rookies," emphasized Daniel. "Old rookies, but 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. So we're excited to be back and we're coming in with wide eyes. We're going to learn."
When rumours first started to circulate about the Sedins coming back on board, there was skepticism that it would be little more than a P.R. move by an organization that had been taking it on the chin from the fanbase for much of this season. Looking back at their 20-plus years in Vancouver, that's never how the twins have operated.
Their legacy is built on hard work and accountability, and there's every reason to believe those are the same qualities they'll bring to their new roles.
"We care about this team and care about the people that work here," said Daniel. "That's the number one reason — the only reason we've come in."
When asked, general manager Jim Benning said he has every intention of keeping his ears open when the twins have thoughts to share.
"I'm going to be real open minded," he said. "They're humble guys, but they've followed the league the last couple of years; they follow the team. They're excited about the young pieces that we have in place, the young core group. And now it's about trying to get this young core group to the next step and they want to be part of that.
"I'm very excited that they joined us today, and they're not that far removed from the league. So they still know a lot of the players in the league. They know what winning teams look like, so I'm going to be listening to them and they're going to be a big part of our decision-making process moving forward."
Daniel and Henrik are three years removed from the league, to be precise, having retired at the end of the 2017-18 season. That was Travis Green's first year behind the Vancouver bench. Brock Boeser was on his way to becoming Calder Trophy runner-up and Bo Horvat was in his fourth year with the team. Thatcher Demko played his first career NHL game that season, Tyler Motte was acquired at the trade deadline when Thomas Vanek was moved out. And those may be the only holdovers from the Sedins' on-ice era that we'll see with the club next season — depending on where you think Loui Eriksson, Alex Edler and Jake Virtanen will land.
Edler has always been 'Vancouver-or-nothing' in his contract negotiations. I would think having the twins officially back in the fold will only strengthen his desire to stay. That could be good for the organization. If it bumps down his asking price to a bargain level, he could still have value for the team in a depth role.
Ha! I wrote the paragraph above before I saw this Tweet:
Benning also mentioned the mentorship that the Sedins can bring for the Canucks' young players, and specifically mentioned the "young Swedish players." Right now, that means formalizing relationships with Elias Pettersson and Nils Hoglander. The Swedes in the system are defenseman Viktor Persson, who's supposed to be in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers next season, and centre Arvid Costmar, who signed a one-year extension
in April with Linkoping of the Swedish Hockey League.
The twins said they do plan to be involved with the Canucks' new AHL affiliate in Abbotsford. And while they said they thought they could be helpful with practices, they made it clear that they have no intention of stepping on the ice.
"We won't put our skates on," chuckled Henrik. "Haven't skated for three years," Daniel added.
Benning said an announcement on the Abbotsford franchise is forthcoming — which I imagine will include the name, logo, and schedule. As far as the coaching staff goes, he let the cat out of the bag on Wednesday, confirming that Trent Cull and his staff would be continuing with Abbotsford, along with Ryan Johnson continuing to serve as general manager.
Benning also took a question about the expansion draft, acknowledging that he didn't expect that the Canucks would have any protection issues. "We're trying to get to know the market see what players are going to be available," he also said. "If we can try to maybe add a player or two before expansion, we're going to look to do that."
As for their end game, will we eventually see the Sedins follow in the footsteps of a Joe Sakic or Steve Yzerman or Ron Francis — other former NHL stars who have transitioned into top front-office jobs?
"We have no game plan," Henrik said. "We're going to find a role that 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 to be able to help the team this way. We'll see. We'll see where it goes."