It was an emotional night at Rogers Arena as Henrik and Daniel Sedin had their jerseys retired ahead of the Vancouver Canucks game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The twins, who are the franchise’s all-time leading scorers, were given a huge ovation as they entered the arena to watch their No. 22 and No. 33 get raised to the rafters. Fans also cheered a number of the Sedins’ former Canucks teammates who were in attendance.
The ceremony started on a light note with a speech from former Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who said he didn’t plan to roast the twins. He then proceeded to affectionately rib his onetime teammates with remarks that recalled a best man’s speech at a wedding.
“We’d all come to our first training camp in really good shape,” Bieksa said. “Well, Henke never got that memo. He brought an extra 15 pounds with him instead.”
He then noted that Daniel had a “legitimate candy addiction.”
“He eats half of his body weight in sour keys and Swedish berries every Saturday,” he said.
Bieksa then joked that the twins’ remarkable on-ice chemistry had nothing to do with them growing up together, but rather a little help from technology.
“I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but part of the reason that they always knew where the other was on the ice is because they wore an earpiece,” Bieksa deadpanned.
“And they talked to each other and they told each other when they’re open. I approached them one time and I said, ‘What is that?’ And they said, ‘We have a word in Sweden that we use to explain it. What was it again? Oh, yeah, cheating.’”
The Sedins then took the microphone to give an earnest speech, thanking family and former teammates and coaches for helping them find success on the ice.
“We came here in 1999 and it felt like home since day one,” Henrik Sedin told the crowd, while addressing Canucks fans throughout B.C.
“We want to thank you for how you treated us and our families. To play in front of you has truly been an honour and nothing we’ve ever taken for granted.”
On hand were a number of former teammates, including Roberto Luongo, Mattias Ohlund, Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen, Trevor Linden and Ryan Kesler, who were all greeted by a huge ovation from the crowd.
Kesler had told media prior to the game that he was nervous about the reception he would receive from the Rogers Arena crowd, given his acrimonious departure from the team in 2014.
“I almost started tearing up,” Kesler said of the cheers he heard from the crowd. “To be able to look around and have those fans standing up, cheering back like they used to was a pretty special feeling that I’ll never forget.”
For former Canucks in attendance, the ceremony was a night to catch up with old teammates, some of whom they hadn’t seen in years.
“It was nice catching up, seeing what everybody is up to,” former Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo said.
“It’s funny because you don’t see guys for many, many years, but then when you see them again it’s like no time has gone by at all.”