Jason Kurylo: NHL Slow To Recognize Sedin

Henrik Sedin is the ninth different player to etch his name on the Art Ross trophy in the past nine seasons. He finished the 2009-2010 season with 112 points, which puts him alongside guys like Guy Lafleur, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr. His effort this year has been every bit as Herculean as the local media is saying; to put his club record total in perspective, when Pavel Bure scored 110 in 1992-93, the Russian Rocket didn’t even rate top ten status in league scoring.

Despite this remarkable season, in which Henrik played 19 games without his brother Daniel, the NHL website took nearly 24 hours to even include his name among their season-ending headlines:

 Where's Henrik?

Hank – the league leader in points – was nowhere to be found. “Crosby, Stamkos tie for ‘Rocket’ Richard trophy”, and “Ovechkin’s trophy bids come up short in finale” are articles that no doubt mention the Vancouver Canuck forward, but seriously, what does a Sedin have to do to get some love from the league? Stamkos and Crosby both rate video highlights on the main NHL.com page – is Henrik’s four-point final game against Calgary available? Daniel’s outstanding hat-trick goal? Nothin’.

It was only a quick email and letter blitz by Vancouver fans that moved the league to change things. Now the site bears the headline it should, “Henrik Sedin wins Art Ross”, and links to a video clip of Daniel’s between-the-legs hat trick goal against Mikka Kiprusoff.

The NHL has long used Crosby and Ovechkin as their poster boys. Other past winners of the Gary Bettman-era Art Ross, like Jarome Iginla, Jaromir Jagr and Joe Thornton, are all, for a lack of better term, sexy. Betts can sell those guys to the American networks. Henrik Sedin, though? Hardly a GQ cover candidate. League officials will put on their Kodak moment smiles in Las Vegas, and they’ll probably come up with some marketing department spin to spew. They’ve already exploited the “Swedish Twins” bit in one TV spot a couple of years ago, right? But you have got to know that league executives and broadcast brass were cheering for Ovechkin and Crosby to tie up the scoring race on the final day.

How bitter should we be, really? Hard to say. With or without Bettman’s henchmen supporting our boy, Henke will be bringing back to GM Place a major piece of hardware that Vancouver has never seen before: the Art Ross trophy.

[tweetmeme]

Thursday Thoughts: Erhoff, Hordi, Hank and Shanny

Merry Christian!

Christian Erhoff - Photo: Canucks.com

Christian Erhoff - Photo: Canucks.com

One could argue that the biggest news of the off-season was the signing of Roberto and Luongo and of course the Sedin twins. And while those players are having good years, there is a newcomer to the team that is making the trade that brought him here highway robbery.

Christian Erhoff and Brad Lukowich were sent to the Canucks from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenceman Daniel Rahimi and forward Patrick White. Lukowich has been sent to the minors, and both Rahimi and White were no longer in the Canucks plans and neither are playing for the Sharks. Erhoff has been the jewel of the deal and has fit right in with the Canucks. In his previous season with the Sharks he recorded eight goals, 34 assists (8-34-42) and 63 penalty minutes in 77 games. This season he’s leading the way on the Canucks blueline and has easily been their most steady defenseman. After 34 games this year Erhoff is just one goal off last years total, has 18 points and leads the team with an impressive plus 16 rating.

At 27 years of age, Erhoff is in the prime of his career, and his addition has more than made up for the departure of Mattias Ohlund.

Hordichuk’s Expiration Date

My friend over at Canucks Hockey Blog, Richard Loat posted about the effectiveness, or lack thereof of Darcy Hordichuk this season.

“Hordichuk is not on this team for his speed or his offense. His offense is a notch above Shane O’Brien. Actually, half a notch. Gillis said he brought him onto the team because he was a tough guy and a heavy weight, but also because he was not one dimensional. He could skate, had some hands, and could also use those hands to pummel opponents. I remember the Hordichuk that played for the Predators and Panthers. That’s the Hordichuk that I thought this team was landing. Unfortunately we’ve seen the complete opposite of what we expected.”

I have to agree. As far as giving the team any spark, it’s been a while since I can think of Hordichuk pumping up his team with any momentum changing bouts. All one needs to do is look at the much smaller Rick Rypien to get that rush. Tough guys have to play their role, and if they don’t bring anything else to the table, they are dead weight. Hordichuk is a light heavyweight at best and as Richard suggests his expiry date as a Canuck is approaching, or may have even passed.

Henrik For The Hart And The Rafters

With Henrik Sedin just one point back of the league scoring league with 43 points, discussion has begun amongst the media and fans as to whether he deserves consideration for the Hart trophy as we approach the midpoint of the season. The answer should be a resounding yes. Henrik is not only having a great year, but with brother and line mate Daniel missing 18 games, Henrik carried the team in the offense department, proving that that twins do not need each other to be effective players. Of course together they are even more dangerous, but Henrik is certainly deserving of being in the company of any Hart trophy discussions. He’s certainly been the Canucks MVP so far, and as a duo the Sedins look like they are going to take another step to becoming among the leagues elite stars an I’ll even go one further. At this rate is there little doubt that if the Sedins retire Canucks, 22 and 33 will be hanging in the rafters next to 12 and 16?

Bettman’s Boy

Our own Tom Benjamin recently posted about the appointment of Brendan Shanahan to the position Vice President of hockey and business development by the NHL. Tom suggests the job may be a little pay back to Shanahan for his work during the NHL lockout.

“He isn’t being rewarded for his behaviour during the labour dispute, is he? How many other players had lunch with Gary Bettman during the lockout? It may reek of corruption, but hey, nobody can say that Gary doesn’t take care of his friends.”

Perhaps a little harsh towards Shanahan, as none of us really know what his qualifications are for the job, and what’s expected of him in it. But it does raise eyebrows when a player retires and is promptly hired to such a lofty position of management within the league. Had Shanahan been named director of a competition committee there would likely be no issue, but the business nature of the job certainly makes things look a little fishy.