The Art of Competition
| He feels the tap on the shoulder; it is time to create art. Henrik wipes away the bead of sweat from his brow and takes to the spotlight, as he has done before on so many occasions. Down by one, he can hear the seconds ticking away as he moves his arms in an attempt to communicate with his teammate. As his opponents are about to celebrate, “field goal” is shouted by wife Johanna just before the buzzer sounds, tying the Pictionary game.
Known on the ice for his grace and skill, Henrik’s competitive nature extends well into his personal life. From games with his friends to a number of his hobbies he yearns to compete and to always put his best foot forward. Quiet upon first glances, the sparkle in Henrik’s gaze is the eye of the tiger - he loves to have a great time but he also loves to compete.
Growing up with three brothers it only seems natural that Henrik would not only love sports but also sibling rivalries. To this day, during the summers, the four Sedin brothers get together, playing in an annual golf tournament and competing in everything from go-karting to tennis. Henrik quickly points out, though, that it is always done in good fun.
“Daniel and I always looked up to our older brothers and we still do,” says the 6’2”, 190-pound centre. “It’s great to see them and have fun with them in the summer, but it’s also great because we all have kids now and they are able to get together and play too.”
The trips to Sweden also serve well in checking on Henrik and Daniel’s trotters: Rolad and Player. Henrik had always been interested in horses and races and jumped at the opportunity to own one.
“The first horse I got was when I was 16 or 17 playing in Sweden,” recalls Henrik. “I decided to invest in a race horse along with 10 of my MoDo teammates and enjoyed it so much that Daniel and I decided to get two when we made it into the NHL.” And while the two brothers are physically quite removed from their race horses, they have entrusted their care in the hands of a trainer and frequently check in on their prized animals.
While playing for MoDo, at the age of 18, Henrik went 3rd overall in a fairly competitive 1999 NHL Entry Draft. When prompted to comment on the order of picks that year (brother Daniel went 2nd overall), Henrik responds, “Well ‘D’ comes before ‘H’ in the alphabet, so that’s what happened.”
Daniel notes while laughing, “I think they made the right choice.”
He remained in Sweden before making the jump to the NHL -- and a large leap it was. Henrik went from elite hockey in Sweden, playing 50 games a year, to the 82 game schedule of the NHL, competing against the best players in the world. After registering 29 points in 82 games during his rookie year, Henrik was quickly criticized for his play. Stereotypes that European players were “soft” infiltrated public opinion and questions arose as to why the Canucks were not going after strong, Canadian players to fill the roster.
Rather than folding under the extreme pressure and scrutiny, Henrik continued to work hard on the ice and participated in a tough training regiment during the off-season to help with his conditioning and strength. During the summer, Sedin spent, and still spends, three days a week weightlifting, alternating days between running 10 kilometers and bike rides. With his determination, Henrik has evolved into one of the team’s, and League’s, leading scorers.
The Swedish Hockey Federation quickly took notice of Henrik’s accomplishments and requested his presence on the roster for the 2006 Winter Olympics. Eight games later, scoring four points in the tournament (3-1-4), Henrik left Torino, Italy with a gold medal around his neck. With talks of the 2010 Olympics quickly approaching, exciting possibilities lie ahead for the Swedish star.
“Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to take part in the Olympics in Vancouver,” say Henrik of participating as a reining world champion. “I would love to play here, in front of [what has become his] hometown fans.”
And while his Olympic triumph was impressive, it wasn’t until a year later that Canucks fans completely took notice of the Ornskoldsvik native.
Of particular note was when on March 25th, 2007 versus Colorado, Henrik registered three assists in the game. With those assists, Sedin, who just reached 63 on the season at that point, surpassed Andre Boudrias’ 1974-75 club record for most assists in a single season.
“It was really neat to be in the record books,” says Henrik of the accomplishment who finished the season with 71 assists. “But what made it even more special was that Andre [who now works for the New Jersey Devils organization as a pro scout] sent a letter congratulating me afterwards. It was a great honour.”
His on ice success did not end there. One season after missing the playoffs, the Canucks returned to competitive form in 2006-07 facing Dallas in the first round. It was a series for the ages; the teams matched up exactly in essentially every category. The first game entered into the history books in a number of areas, including the longest played in Canucks history. Save after brilliant save was displayed between netminders Roberto Luongo and Marty Turco on each end of the ice. Just after midnight, Henrik emerged as the hero, scoring the quadruple overtime game-winning goal to give the Canucks the 1-0 lead and set the tone for the series.
Despite some adversity in his first couple of years with the team, Henrik has evolved into one of the most dominant players in today’s NHL. As a new father, he has the ability to put things in perspective, deflecting negative comments and giving his complete attention to wife Johanna and son Walter at home.
And while his dedication to hockey is undeniable, Henrik never forgets to have fun, perhaps no clearer to fans than when he danced for the cameras in last year’s NHL ad campaign. His competitive nature and determination has seen the centre improve upon point totals each season, with Sedin’s best, thus far, in 2006-07 with 81 points. Speed, imagination and quick hands will continue to make Henrik the player to watch, not just in Pictionary, but in a Canucks sweater for years to come.
King of the Rink - Henrik Sedin
71 - Assists in 2006-07
7056.19 - Distance from Ornskoldsvik to Vancouver
43:46 - Minutes played in game one of the 2006-07 playoffs vs. Dallas
Henrik Sedin Highlights