There was a lengthy article about the Sedins in the Swedish tabloid Expressen on xmas eve. Sorry I haven't posted it earlier, but I've been translating a little rvery now and then, and only finished it now. Here goes:
The Sedins: "One Time Daniel Was Me"
PHOENIX/SAN JOSE. SPORT-Expressen's reporter Magnus Nyström followed them on a roadtrip to Phoenix and San José with the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL.
They criticize Bengt-Åke Gustafsson's coachning in the last Olympics and tell what juniors need to do better, what scars their hearts and what similarities there are between the infamous John Tortorella and Pär Mårts.
They reveal when they get on each other's nerves and when one of them pretended to be the other. Here's an exclusive meeting with Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
We're sitting in the lobby bar of a luxurious hotel in San Jose, and as usual I have to start by asking: "OK, who is who?"
The Sedins are always seen as one item, despite the fact that siblings compete against eachother and do not always see eye to eye, which leads to my next question: "When was the last time you two fought?"
The response is two surprised smiles.
"Oh, come on! I've got siblings too," I say.
"It's mostly on the ice, I think. Outside of the rink we share the same values, we see things the same way. But during a game we can get angry," Daniel says, and adds "It's not like we're yelling at eachother, it's more like 'what did you do there?' or telling if he's not sharp or focused. It's easier to tell Henrik off than some other team mate. I mean, I know what he can do, and if one of us isn't as good as we can be, the other gets upset."
You accept that kind of criticism from one another?
"I don't know about accept. You get grumpy at first, but then you're out there on your next shift. You don't really have time to reflect on it during the game. But it's usually correct. But we've become more mellow over the years."
Then I tell them about a conversation I had with their former team mate Andrew Raycroft, now with Björklöven, who used to warm up playing soccer with Henrik and Daniel during their time together in the Canucks organisation.
"Which Sedin is better at soccer?" I asked.
"No way. I'm not telling. They will read this. One of them was better, but they are so competitive, yes, even against eachother, that if I say one is better, the other will carry a grudge against me," Raycroft said.
Daniel responds quickly and firmly to that statement.
"We're equally good."
Henrik agrees and adds "Raycroft is a good team player. He doesn't want to piss anyone off."
But how do you react when the other twin wins?
"It's cool," they both say.
I'm not buying it.
"It's more like a fun thing, if we're out running, or playing tennis, it's good to have an equal strength opponent. But it's not like we always have to win, not against eachother," Daniel says.
But clearly who ever loses isn't thrilled if you're having dinner together later that night?
"You just look forward to the next game," Henrik says with a stern face.
"Yeah, the lust for revenge is huge," says Daniel and continues "but we're equally good at tennis."
"Well.... OK... yeah, sure, we are," says Henrik.
John Tortorella had not been coaching Henrik and Daniel Sedin in Vancouver long when he exploded at a press conference:
"You know what bothers me the most? it's when the Sedins are called soft. I've had the honour, in this short time, to be with them, up close and personal and see how hard they work and see what they do on the ice. It pisses me off, the reputation that's still out there. It's so undeserving and so disrespectful."
The trash talk was at its worst during the Stanley Cup final against Boston, but has continued with taunts like "the Sedin sisters" or "Thelma och Louise".
You yourselves must get pissed ff by this?
"Sure, that happens. It's a bit frustrating, but it has a lot to do with us being European and playing on the same line. People will use that. People are alowed their opinion, but it's weird sometimes. Some one says something, and it sticks," Henrik says.
And it all started because Daniel did not fight a guy in the final against Boston?
"Yes, we didn't fight back, and got flack for that. If we had fought back, we'd had gotten flack for that. It's a no win situation," Daniel says.
"But I think the trash talk on the ice has dropped. It's very little. Some nagging from the bench," Henrik says.
What's it like against the other Swedes?
"There's good respect between the Swedes. During the regular season it's cool when you meet other Swedes, you say hi and chat a bit. During the playoffs you focus more on the game. Then you don't talk to the opponents," Henrik says.
Like when they played Peter Forsberg.
"That was the good old times when Foppa was in Colorado. we faced them in the playoffs when we had just arrived here. Itwas tough. We were at different phases of our career. We had just joined the league, he eas at his peak," says Henrik.
He was not a gentleman on the ice?
"No, he wasn't," the twins answer in unison.
When I, the night before this interview, saw Vancouver play Phoenix, the infamous John Tortorella seemed both content and upset at times.
When was the last time he told you off?
"Last night, on the bench during the game. We had lost the puck on the offensive blue line, not gotten it in deep. Otherwise he's not really been on our case. Ocassionally, here and there, but nothing serious."
Life in the NHL is nothing like life in the SHL, with scheduled practices between games. Vancouver - at the far edge of the Canadian west coast - has the worst travel schedule of all teams, and this Olympic season it's worse than usual.
Recently you had a ten day stretch with no practices - how good is that?
"We play so darn much, we eg had five games in seven days recently, so Tortorella feels we should focus on the games and rather have time off between them, and save all energy for when it matters. Sure, some times that means you miss the opportunity to improve through practice, certainly, but at the same time we watch an awful lot of video, 45 minute every morning after games," Henrik explains.
And then you get yelled at?
"No, haha. Tortorella is great that way. It's half and half. He shows as many things that we did well as he shows that we did poorly. And that's great for us players, that we get both positive and negative feedback. And nobody gets off easy. Anyone who screws up will hear it. That includes us," Daniel says.
It's in that close cooperation between coach and players that you find the similarity between Tortorella and the much more soft spoken Pär Mårts.
What very few know is that before the Sedins agreed to play in the world championship last spring, they were very clear to the coach. they explained they wanted as much ice time as possible, both on the power play and the penalty kill. they wanted to be relied on in all important game situations.
"We want responsibility."
Mårts accepted, and the result was world championship gold.
Tortorella has also bought into the concept and for the first time in the Sedins' NHL career they are now used regularly on the penalty kill.
Some stars prefer to rest during the penalty kill and just play offensively. you don't. Why?
"When we've played in the playoffs and only have had offensive roles, we haven't felt like we can lead by example. We want to do everything. If we fail, it should be on us. We want to participate in all situations. We want to be on the ice in the situations that matter at the end of the game. If we lose, it should be because we failed," Daniel says.
Henrik jumps in and continues:
"It's how we were raised. We want responsibility. Right from the start in Modo we were playing on the power play, the penalty kill, the end of the games and in all key situations under Pelle Bäckman. We want to be trusted to do that."
That is the attitude they brought with them to the wirld championship last spring. No wonder they won the gold.
Has your game changed under Tortorella?
"No, you couldn't say that. But our previous coach just wanted us to produce. Now the coach wants us to do everything well. If we play well defensively we get a pat on the back. Before, if we did not score, we had failed," Henrik says.
Then I mention a situation in their last game, when I was watching from the stands and secretly cheered as Henrik brilliantly back checked and prevented a scoring opportunity for Phoenix. Not once during our long session at the hotel in San Jose do Henrik and Daniel look as pleased as when I say this. My praise for the world championship gold went largely unnoticed. That I noticed the back checking effort in one of 82 regular season games earns their respect.
Henrik and Daniel signed new contracts this fall and will remain with the Vancouver Canucks till they're 37 years old. It's about their love for the city of Vancouver and for the Canucks, but also about the dream of winning the Stanley cup. They've lost a seventh game of a Stanley Cup final at home in Vancouver.
Is that loss against Boston still a scar in your hearts?
"Yes, it is. I think about it almost every day," Henrik says.
Both he and Daniel get a serious look on their faces. Almost a bit sad. Almost a bit angry. I let the silence ring out for a while, and then Daniel says:
"It was so close. Now we know what it takes to win. You have to give everything so you get the chance to win every year, and it feels like we've had that chance for five or six years now. If you do, then one of those years all the bounces will go your way and you can do it."
Despite the crushing blow you faced the media afterwards, even though many of your team mates hid and many others would have done the same. But not the two of you?
"No, we didn't. If you stand there when things go well, you have to do it when things turn out bad as well," Daniel says.
"A lot of people just do the one thing," Henrik says.
This is probably the part of our conversation that impresses me the most.
Log onto youtube, search for Sedin + Lupul, and watch the failed attack.
This is business as usual for the Sedins. It's a combination of luck and skill that saved Henrik Sedin from a serious injury that time.
"That was really close. I saw Lupul coming in the corner of my eye, and managed to escape in the last split second. Otherwise I would have been gone for a long time. These things happen a lot. You need to be aware of your surroundings," Henrik says.
Then Henrik criticises other players and especially reckless rookies.
"I see a lot of players going blindly through the mid zone with their heads down. This has changed a lot and is something we've talked about. When we entered the league no one would go east to west in the mid zone without keeping their head up. If you did, you got run over. Now many younger players just keep skating with their eyes directed at the ice, being used to doing that in the junior leagues. But you need to be in control, aware of what's happening around you. Where the players are. Many get the puck at full speed and have no idea where the other players are."
On the ice they're often told by opponents to "take it easy tonight", "don't cycle too much".
They themselves have their heads spinning from all the travelling.
"Life on the road is pretty boring. We don't have time for much. We travel, eat, sleep and play hockey," Daniel says.
I don't travel as much as you, but at least once every Swedish playoff i wake up in some hotel room some where, lie in the dark and ponder - where am I?
The twins laugh.
"Yeah, that happens a lot. It happened to me probably four times just the last month," Henrik says.
During the flights they've left the card playing crowd up front and now sit further back, where they read books, watch TV series and listen to pod casts. Daniel and Alexander Edler are just now watching the latest season of "Sons of Anarchy".
They live in single rooms on the road trips and at home in Vancouver they don't see eachother much outside of hockey. They lead their own separate family lives.
They both deny that they check themselves out on youtube, but they at least admit to having watched the gold medal celebrations at Kungsträdgården in Stockholm afterwards and enjoyed it.
"We've always wondered how people in Sweden view us. Before you win something with the national team, and have a leading role there, it doesn't matter how much success you have here. The world championship was our first chance to show that we can take on a leading role for the national team. We needed to win something with the national tram while having prominent roles," says Henrik.
"It's every players dream to have a leading role on a winning team. The whole experience of winning a world championship at home and then the celebration at Kungsträdgården - it was awesome," says Daniel.
But Henrik got most of the praise?
"That goes up and down and we're happy for eachother. We push eachother. And we're equally good at everything we do," daniel responds quickly.
"We're equally good at everything. I won Art Ross one year, when Daniel was injured. Next year he won Art Ross, then he was better than me. And we never think that one of us is better than the other," says Henrik.
So when have you fooled us all? It must have happened.
Some game some time, when you fooled every one, I say and smile.
At first they look annoyed. They've heard is before. Then they smile.
"We've had team mates that have switched the name signs in the locker room so people have mistaken us for one another," Daniel says.
"Without our knowledge, of course," Henrik says.
Then they start to laugh.
"Once Daniel was me," Henrik says.
"Yeah, I was supposed to be interviewed on TV after a game in Pittsburgh. Daniel took the interview and pretended to be me."
"But we told the reporter afterwards."
We also talk anout their legendary summer training. They practice some 15 hours a week during their summer "vacation". During the training camp this fall the Canucks' backup goalie Eddie Läck tweeted:
"@eddielack: Rookie lesson nr1: don't try to keep up with Henrik Sedin on a 2 mile run. 2 mile is gonna end with 1 mile run and 1 mile jog.#lessonlearned"
But then I manage to make the twins a bit peeved.
It was sad some time that even a water hydrant would have scored 50 goals playing on a line with Wayne Gretzky, but, and I mean no disrespect, you are hard to play with?
"I don't know if I agree with that. You'll have to ask others. Maybe it's not so easy. But ask the ones we've played with, most of them have scored more goals than we have," Henrik says.
Well... That's not quite true, is it?
"Yeah, really, I think most of them have," Henrik tries.
But it's pretty demanding being the third forward on your line, you need to move your legs and be smart, there'll be long episodes without touching the puck. Not every one can handle that.
Daniel: "OK, it's obvious we play differently. In the beginning many thought we needed a big and strong right shooter, who should shoot as spon as he could. But what we really need is a smart player who knows how to be in the right place, like Alex Burrows, who we've played a lot with. He's not the most gifted skater, he doesn't have a remarkable shot, but he's always in the right place. He's smart," Daniel says.
Loui Eriksson got the job done at the world championship.
"He's a smart player. Just look at him. What he has done in Dallas and Boston. He's an intelligent player, reads the game well. That's the key," Daniel says.
You can't just have any players playing together?
"No, you can't take the three best players in the world and form a line. Sometimes players don't gel. No one does the dirty work, or every one wants the puck," Henrik says. "Just doing everything wrong."
At the Turin Olympics Henrik and Daniel played on the fourth line with Jörgen Jönsson.
"We did a lot of penalty killing and we knew what role we had on the team. It's important to assign players to different roles. You can't have every player doing everything. Which is a bit what it was like at the Vancouver Olympics," Daniel sighs.
From gold in Turin to a fiasco in the hometown of the Sedins, and Bengt-Åke Gustavsson's handling of the Sedins didn't pan out well.
"Of course you thought that now it's in Vancouver and it will be so fun, and then... It really did not work out so well," Daniel says and continues:
"Slovakia had six or seven fantastic players who were on the ice practically the whole time, kind of like we did at the world championship. As it should be. At the Vancouver Olympics we had like twenty great players and no one got enough ice time. You can't make everyone happy. The best have to play the most."
Yes, it was very strange how you were used. And in your own back yard.
"Yes, it was weird. There were many good players on the team. No question about that. But we wanted to play a lot. We're used to playing a lot," says Henrik.
"Of course we wanted to play more. We wanted to be key players on that team," says Daniel and switches the subject to the upcoming Olympics:
"It's in the back of our heads, absolutely. It'll be exciting."
And gold is the only thing that matters?
"Absolutely., we can't imagine anything else with the team we are going to have," Henrik says.
"It will be fun. I mean, just look at all the young Swedish defensemen that are popping up in the NHL and, yeah, we'll have a great team. It'll be really fun," says Daniel.