It’s no surprise Henrik and Daniel Sedin want hands-on when it comes to building the Vancouver Canucks into a winner.
And while Henrik appeared on Thursday on Sportsnet 650’s people showThe former Vancouver captain set his ambitions for a new role on the Canucks player development team.
Henrik and Daniel spent the whole of last season in special counsel roles under Jim Benning and his eventual successors Jim Rutherford and Patrick Alvin. During that chaotic period, it’s safe to say that the Sedins learned a lot more than they expected.
“We’ve seen a lot so far for only a year,” Henrik said with a laugh. “We were part of our first semester here and agency free, and we just tried to absorb as much as we could there. [There were] Lots of changes throughout the year as you all know, and I’m really excited to be working with Patrick and Jim and the new staff.”
It seemed like the plan from day one was to give the Sedins a feel for every department of hockey operations and see where they felt the best long-term fit would be. That spot ended up returning to the ice in player development, as they will be joined by former teammate Mikael Samuelson and retired NHLer Mike Komisarek.
Henrik feels that getting more involved in working with the younger players on the ice, particularly at Abbotsford with the AHL, is what he and Daniel will enjoy the most. “We spent at least once a week outside for training and then watched almost all of their matches,” Henrik said.
“It’s going to be a great part of next year too, to spend time there and work with prospects in Abbotsford to help them realize their potential. If you don’t make time and invest in these people, you’ll never get the full value out of your draft choices. So crafting a guy is only part Small in getting the best player out of them.”
And if any player understands the importance of spending time with potential clients, this is Sedins. After being drafted to second and third place respectively in 1999, it took Daniel and Henrik a few years of NHL seasoning to reach their superhero potential.
But even with that experience under their belt, Henrik knows that today’s top potential clients experience more high pressure.
“These days, if you’re highly recruited, you’re expected to come in and help right away and be one of the best players on the team, so I think it’s somehow more difficult,” Henrik said because if you’re not that guy who’s coming in and you’re not ready to play right away, It’s easier to let go of them.”
While the Canucks’ side currently have a small group of excellent opportunities to work with Sedins, one of the players they will work closely with at Abbotsford is Daniela Klimovic in 2021. The 19-year-old has struggled to find his way into the playoffs in the Trent Cole due to his defensive struggles and low scoring rate, but Henrik feels that more time in the AHL is all he needs.
“I think he joined the AHL at that age, he definitely took some steps last year. The coaching staff there did a great job every day talking to him and trying to make him understand what’s different about the game in Europe,” said Henrik.
“There are things he needs to work on for sure, but his size, his skill level, his shot and everything, he has that. So there is just a matter of being patient with him. Let him get to that level at his own pace, and don’t force him to come up here.”
Henrik’s hope to help other young players make the jump from AHL to NHL stems from communicating what is expected of them. “I think there are always four or five things everyone has to do. It doesn’t matter if you play in Abbotsford or here,” Henrik said.
“The skill level is what will differentiate if you play on the first line and get a solid playing time, or if you’re on the fourth line, maybe it’s one of the kill guys; there are four or five things everyone has to do, it doesn’t matter if you’re the highest paid player or If you win 75,000 at Abbotsford, that has to be expected of everyone. I think we were very proud of that when we played well and that’s something you need to own.”
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