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Mistaken Identity No More

Daniel Sedin paves his own distinct path.

Monday, 21.07.2008 / 5:42 PM / Features
By John Gibson
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Mistaken Identity No More
Contrary to the English language, there really is no “I” in twin. From outside eyes, those who are twins become a package deal: their individuality is checked at the door, while the novelty of looking and sounding alike becomes a fixation of indelible fascination.

Such has been the case for Vancouver’s most famous twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The Sedins don’t make it easy to differentiate: they were drafted together, they room together on the road, and when one scores, 99.9% of the time the other set it up. Yet despite their amazing wonder twin powers, and the awe-inspiring psychic connection they seem to share on the ice, it’s about time we look at them as individuals. Therefore, it is Daniel Sedin on whom the focus will be here, and Daniel alone.

Similar to his four Swedish teammates, Daniel speaks softly and projects a polite off-ice demeanour. Much more shy and self-effacing in his earlier years, the 6’1” winger has experienced a boom in the last three seasons — steadily increasing his points, confidence, and size. And while often concealed, behind his steely blue eyes lurks a biting wit and mischievous sense of humour, particularly if you ask him who the better twin is.

STICKING TOGETHER

For Daniel, comparisons to his brother have been a lifelong occurrence, relegated to everyday happenstance. And like most twins, when he speaks of himself, Daniel uses “we” more often than “I.”

“It’s hard to say if it’s frustrating, because it’s always been that way,” Daniel said of his twin comparisons. “We’re so used to it by now. It was probably tougher in the beginning, because you want to be your own person in a way. But we’ve always stuck together, and in the media we’re always compared to each other.”

As Vancouver’s first choice (second overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Daniel moved to Vancouver the following year and played in his first NHL game on October 5, 2000, against Philadelphia.

But playing in the pros, in a foreign country, just weeks after his 20th birthday was not an easy endeavour for the puck-handling protégé. He felt a tinge of homesickness for his small town of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden early on.

“It was hard at first, because we lived in a pretty secure environment back home, and when we came over here we were by ourselves so to speak,” Daniel recounts. “I was fortunate to have my brother and my wife with me — so that made things a lot easier.”

HIGH EXPECTATIONS

Yet the early days were far from painless for Daniel. The instant Vancouver chose two Swedish twins back-to-back in the ’99 Draft unfairly wrought a world of expectation, cynicism, and scrutiny on the Sedins — and the Canucks organization — for such an unprecedented move.

“I think the expectations were really high for us, and at the same time, a lot of people weren’t sure of us playing together,” the candidly forthcoming Daniel replied. “We didn’t live up to those expectations at first, that’s for sure. I think people were disappointed with us actually, so it was tough in the beginning. We took it year by year, and tried to get better every season, which I think we have done.”

As evident, channelling such hardships through an unsurpassed work ethic — and a pinch of Swedish good-nature — only made Daniel stronger, and the star he is today.

“Looking back, I think those first few years were important though, and good to go through,” a clearly enlightened Daniel reveals. “They were tough, but I think we learned a lot about ourselves. As happy as I am about all the success we’ve had, the smaller things, and smaller personal victories were good for us because they helped us get better, and helped us increase our confidence.”

FAMILY MAN

Aside from maturing as a player over the last few seasons, the biggest milestone Daniel has had comes from off the ice: his and wife Marinette’s daughter, Ronja and son, Erik.

“Ronja is two and half, and we just had our son Erik in February,” the excited dad said, his voice swelling with pride.

For Daniel, the birth of his children had a profound impact on his life’s outlook, shifting his priorities irrevocably.

“Before Ronja and Erik were born, hockey was pretty much everything for me,” he discloses earnestly. “I thought about hockey when I came home from practice, when I came home from games, on my way to the rink in the morning, all the time. Since they have been born, I see life in a completely different way. You play hockey, and then when you get home from a game, whether you won or lost, it doesn’t matter. When you see them at the door waiting for you, it puts hockey and everything else in a different perspective. They are always on my mind.”

While Daniel’s growing family is his crowning achievement, his pinnacle professional moment took place just last season.

PART OF HISTORY

“Hmmm, what’s been my favourite moment while playing here?” he quietly asks himself, repeating the question as he contemplates his answer. “I think my very first playoff game was such a great experience. Hearing how loud the crowd was, and seeing the fans with the towels and everything, that was great. But Game One against Dallas last year when we won was probably one of the best moments on the ice I’ve ever had.”

That epic first round playoff game against Dallas saw both teams battle through four overtime periods, until Henrik Sedin – from a Daniel assist — scored the game winner. After playing over two games worth of hockey in one night, many players received I.V. treatment just to replenish their fluids.

“Everyone was so tired, and we all knew it too,” Daniel reminisces with a laugh now that it’s over. “It was such a relief when Henrik scored, not only because we won the game, but just because that meant it was finished! And when I look back on my career I’ll remember that as one of the most special moments.”

In the 2006.07 season, Daniel led the Canucks in goals and points, and this season, he currently leads the team in goals. Gradually it has become ingrained into the consciousness of Canucks fans that #22 will score the goals. And while Daniel is always up to the challenge, the demand for points on a defensively-minded team might seem crippling to others.

“I don’t look at it in terms of pressure on scoring the goals,” the steadfast winger imparts with a genuine smile. “I think it’s actually fun to be counted on. For our first couple of years, Markus and Bert’s line was the scoring line, and that’s what [Henrik and I] always wanted to be too. It was something we wanted to strive towards, so that we would be counted on like that too.”

Now as the offensive hammer of this team, Daniel is thriving in the spotlight. On pace for another banner year, and more experienced in the post-season, his confidence is matched only by his desire to achieve the NHL’s ultimate prize.

And when asked who would hoist the Cup first, him or his brother, perhaps Daniel’s individuality isn’t so hidden after all: “Oh, me of course,” he instantly responds while laughing. “That’s easy.”






27 - Years of age

7 - Seasons as a Canuck

380 - Career NHL points

7 - Times representing Team Sweden




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