Sedins Need Speed, Not Toughness

They are the type of players who every coach dreams of coaching. The list of what they do well overpowers the list of what they need to improve, and that list starts with their attitude.

“What people don’t see, unless you’re around our team a bit, is the great people that those two are,” head coach Alain Vigneault told the Vancouver Sun about Henrik and Daniel Sedin. “How they are there every day to serve their teammates, to help their teammates in anything…they’re two genuine people.” It has been clear for a while now that the Sedins live and play with a team-first attitude. They are leaders who work well with their teammates and play to lift up other members of the Canucks. They have a knack for making uncanny plays that end up in goals by their teammates, whether that other person is a fellow superstar or an unknown rookie.

What the Sedins are most well known for are their tape-to-tape passes and beautiful goals. They play smart and dominate the Canucks power play, as they are able to maintain possession and cycle in the offensive zone for a long time. They are fairly consistent and can fill almost any spot – and it did not come naturally.

“It’s going better than maybe we thought it would. We didn’t come in…like guys do now and they’re ready for the NHL right away and put up points. We came in and were struggling and we needed to work hard to get better,” Henrik Sedin told the Vancouver Sun. “That feels good.”

Even though the Sedin twins seem perfect, they are normal people like anyone else and they do have flaws, as some have suggested publicly. One of the biggest things the Sedins can improve on is their speed, especially Henrik, who has received a multitude of hooking penalties this season. By gaining speed, the Sedins will become better defensively and become more effective when back-checking. They are not fast enough to keep up with other players, which often leads to hooking, holding or tripping penalties, as their sticks reach other players before they reach the puck.

Meanwhile, many people claim that the Sedins need to be tougher, that they are weak and get pushed around too much. We have seen the Sedins attempt to be “tough,” like when Henrik offered to fight Chris Neil in Ottawa few games ago and the “scrums” they once got involved in against the Chicago Blackhawks. These attempts did not work and that is just fine, because that is not the way the Sedins play. Their style of play does not involve hitting, fighting or responding when they get pushed around. The Sedins play hockey with their brains, and they are incredibly good at it without getting involved and without responding, whether or not they have been punched repeatedly in the head. Has their lack of “toughness” prevented them from winning Art Ross, Hart and Lester B. Pearson trophies or from winning Olympic gold? No. It may have prevented them from winning the Stanley Cup, but they came close, and it is impossible to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals without being tough in some way. They may not be physically tough but the Sedins are mentally tough and mentally sound.

“Toughness can be measured in different ways,” said Vigneault. “Mental toughness…the twins are all about that. They want to be the go-to guys. They want to win. And they’ve done that ever since they’ve been with this organization.”

This is one the biggest factors that makes the Sedins so good. They have received an incredibly large amount of criticism and disrespect from the media and other teams, but they do not retaliate or make insults. Throughout round one against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011, the Sedins were constantly respecting and complimenting the Blackhawks, acknowledging their strengths, even though they did not receive the same in return. The Sedins do not get rattled by the comments from people such as Dave Bolland and Mike Milbury. They have constantly had to deal with the sexist nickname of the Sedin “sisters,” yet that has not changed the way they play or act. Daniel was not happy with the comments Mike Milbury made about him and his brother during the Stanley Cup Finals, but he did not turn a little comment into a big deal.

“We don’t really worry about those kinds of comments,” Daniel told the Globe and Mail back in June. “He made a bad comment about us, calling us women. I don’t know how he looks at women. I would be pretty mad if I was a woman.”

It is speed, not toughness that the Sedins need to focus on. Besides, with the way they play, anybody would kill to have them on their team.

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