In all the moderate hoopla over Henrik leading the league in scoring, it’s easy to forget that The Sedins could easily have been wearing Maple Leafs uniforms on the first of July.
There was an eerie calm about The Sedins at free agency. A pervasive feeling of “What? Where else would they go?” They wanted to be here, right? After all, they’re Swedes — and Swedes are like the Labrador Retriever of hockey players: loyal and happy to be where they’re treated well.
But then a funny thing happened on the way to The Sedins sticking around: Mike Gillis had to get on a plane to Sweden and plea bargain. Then a second, less funny thing happened: Brian Burke got on a plane to Sweden, too.
Tampering allegations aside, what if Gillis didn’t make it? What if on that fateful day, Gillis flubbed and lost arguably the two most important players on this Canucks team?
And then assume that Burke got to them. “Twins Land In TO: Burke Scoops Sedins”
- Burke looks like a hero. Reclaiming his prized possessions from the ’99 draft, Burke makes the big splash he wanted in Toronto. Presuming the twins achieve the same torrid pace, the Leafs are no longer cellar dwellers in the East and are considered dark horses to make hay in the playoffs.
- Gillis loses his cred. A lot of people have given Gillis the benefit of the doubt, if not praise, for his ability to keep the core of this team together by re-signing Luongo and The Sedins. But if his two top scorers flew the coop, would we feel the same way?
- Alex Burrows goes MIA. We all talk about Burrows’ back-to-back hat tricks against Columbus and Phoenix, but let’s not forget that when Daniel was hurt and Henrik was scoring, Burrows was nowhere to be found. Only since Daniel’s come back has Burrows regained his touch. And instead of Burrows, we could be watching CBC’s interview with alternate reality rookie scoring leader, Nazem Kadri.
- League-wide superstar recognition. Take this to the bank: if The Sedins are on the East Coast playing before the Toronto media monster the way they are now, they’re labeled superstars and everybody pays respect to the NHL’s leading scorer, further feeding into Burke’s “genius” and throwing egg all over the faces of Vancouver fans, media and Mike Gillis. That would seriously suck.
- The Canucks languish in neutral. Despite some solid free agent signings, losing two of the team’s top scorers and leaders leaves them in a “team system” that misses the twins’ innate and consistent scoring ability.
So it took the Sedins 10 years to figure out the NHL game? Hell, it took Naslund over six years to get it. I think it’s pretty clear that without the Sedins this team would have more questions than answers, because it’s not like Grabner and Hansen were going to fill the void.
I like Daniel and Henrik. I honestly never thought they’d be a serious top line threat in the NHL, but I always considered them the best second line in hockey and probably better than a few first lines. But a funny thing happened on the way to mediocrity: we got to call Henrik the NHL’s leading scorer. I’ll take it.
And if this is a sign of what is still to come, I’ll take that too.