Thursday, May 6, 2010

Henrik Sedin wins Art Ross Trophy, nominated for Hart and Ted Lindsay Award


Perhaps it is the fact that most hockey writers and fans are too busy or too tired to watch the 10pm Eastern start times for the Vancouver Canucks games, but has there ever been a more unheralded Art Ross Trophy winner and Hart Trophy/Ted Lindsay Award nominee then Henrik Sedin? It is finally time for hockey fans and observers to take notice of a legitimate star in this league.

While the hockey world watches and discusses every move made by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, both on and off the ice, Henrik Sedin wrapped up his best season in a Canucks uniform with 112 points and won his first major award in the NHL. Not only did he win the scoring race, he established new franchise records for points and assists (83) in one season. He also became the all-time assists leader for the franchise with 434 in his career. Considering the fact that Sedin plays in Vancouver, I am pleasantly surprised he was not dropped from the final three finalist’s list in favour of Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, perhaps demonstrating that Henrik is finally receiving some well-deserved recognition.

Since his arrival in North America with twin brother and fellow Canuck, Daniel, he has steadily improved each season. In his first year in the league (the 2000-2001 season), Henrik played in all 82 games and accumulated 29 points (9 goals and 20 assists). The first year in Vancouver involved acclimating to life in Canada, as well as the jump from the 55 game schedule in the Swedish Elite League to the 82 game NHL schedule; by game 60 of his rookie season, Henrik and Daniel both appeared to run out of gas. However, since those early struggles, Henrik has gone on to play all 82 games in seven of his nine seasons in the league; a remarkable feat for a player deemed too soft for the NHL in his rookie campaign. He has missed a total of 10 games during his career, while representing Sweden in the World Championships and the Olympics in that span as well.

After last night's loss, the Canucks are walking a fine line; another second round playoff exit is on the horizon as the Blackhawks go up 2-1 in the series. There is no doubt that Henrik and Daniel will be the targets of the critics if this occurs. Headlines stating "The Sedins Must Step Up" are already appearing in newspapers and Online. However, Henrik and Daniel have 10 and 11 points respectively and Henrik is fifth in the entire league in face-off wins with a 59% winning percentage.

Their lack of scoring against the Hawks is a concern, especially Henrik and Daniel's -2 rating in Game 2, but let's not forget that the Canucks are playing one of the best teams in the Western Conference for the past two seasons. Vancouver is also trying to get the job done without Willie Mitchell on defence and a hot-and-cold Roberto Luongo in nets. To simply blame the Sedins for this year's post-season struggles and take away the shine from what has been another stellar year for Henrik is a mistake. This time of year, games are won and lost at both ends of the ice; Vancouver is losing this series in their own end and there is still plenty of time for a momentum shift in this seven game series.

Critics often say, that the Sedins are great together but merely good separately; Henrik won the scoring title while twin brother Daniel was sidelined for 18 games with a fractured bone in his foot. Both players have established themselves as legitimate NHL All-Stars, it is finally time for the NHL and all hockey observers to take notice and put some hardware in Henrik Sedin’s trophy case.

Photo by Mafue on Flickr.com

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