VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Vancouver Canucks missed the playoffs, but Daniel and Henrik Sedin will still draw a large crowd Tuesday night.
The 37-year-old Swedish twins will play the second-to-last game of their esteemed NHL careers as the Canucks (30-40-9) host the Vegas Golden Knights (50-22-7) at Rogers Arena.
“It’s a chance for us to thank the fans,” Daniel Sedin said during a news conference Monday after the twins announced this will be their final NHL season. “We told our teammates this morning they should be regular games. Treat us the same way.
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“It should be no different this last week.”
But the otherwise meaningless game will be quite different. Tickets will be at a premium as fans come from near and far to see the future Hall of Famers in Canuck colors for one of the last times. The 18-year veterans are retiring after helping the Canucks become competitive in the early 2000s, and then come within one game of winning the 2011 Stanley Cup before rebuilding again.
“There’s been a lot of talk (about the future),” Henrik Sedin said during the noon-hour news conference. “We felt the longer the season went, it became clearer to us this was going to be our last year.”
“It’s a happy day for all of us,” Daniel Sedin added. “We’re really comfortable where we’re at.”
The Sedins were far from comfortable at the beginning of their careers, though, when they were ridiculed unfairly for not being tough enough or talented enough. They missed relatively few games while playing more than 1,000 each — and they both won NHL scoring titles — in back-to-back seasons.
Henrik Sedin took home Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer in 2009-10 with 112 points and also captured the Hart Trophy as league MVP. The next season, Daniel Sedin won the Art Ross in 2010-11 with 104 points — 10 more than Henrik — earned the Ted Lindsay Award as the league MVP, based on player votes.
They also have given millions of dollars and time to many charities.
The Sedins have cited a desire to spend more time with their families, but plan to remain living in Vancouver.
“We’ll miss them as people and as players,” said Canucks president of hockey operations Trevor Linden, a former teammate. “(I’m) happy for them because I know this is a decision they’ve come to for the right reasons.”
On Tuesday, the Sedins will try to help the Canucks extend their current four-game win streak and pad their individual season point totals. Daniel Sedin has 21 goals and 31 assists in 78 games to date, while Henrik Sedin has three goals and 45 assists in 79 contests.
Meanwhile, Vegas will use the game as a warmup for the postseason after clinching the Pacific Division title Saturday with a win over San Jose. The Golden Knights became the first NHL expansion team to qualify for the playoffs.
“It’s a great feeling to win our division,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Obviously, no one had those expectations at the beginning of the season. We played hard and worked hard all season long, so it’s a great accomplishment.
“But we all know what the real accomplishment is going to be. It’s all about the playoffs. Now that we know they’re there, we’ve got to get ready and make sure we’re set. That’s what is important to me. A great regular season means a lot, but a great playoffs means a lot more.”
Consequently, Gallant is expected to rest some of his key players as the regular season comes to a close. Top goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly get a night or two off, and David Perron, who has missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury, Reilly Smith and Luca Sbisa, a former Canuck, are among others likely to be in the press box sometime during the final three games.
But Gallant does not want his team to let up as it attempts to secure home-ice advantage through as many rounds as possible.
“It’s all about points,” he told the Review-Journal. “You never know what the scenario is going to be down the road so let’s win as many games as we can.”