British Columbia

Former Canucks manager who drafted Sedin twins reflects on their legacy

Eighteen years ago, ahead of the 1999 NHL draft, former Vancouver Canucks General Manager Brian Burke watched identical Swedish twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin at the World Juniors in Winnipeg.

The first time I saw them play, I wanted nothing to do with them’

Nineteen-year-old Daniel, left, and Henrik Sedin pose in their new Vancouver Canucks jerseys ahead of their first NHL season in June 2000. (Chuck Stoody/The Canadian Press)

Eighteen years ago, ahead of the 1999 NHL draft, former Vancouver Canucks General Manager Brian Burke watched identical Swedish twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin at the World Juniors in Winnipeg. 

The Sedins recently announced they will be retiring at the end of this NHL season, after nearly two decades with the Canucks.

"The first time I saw them play, I wanted nothing to do with them," Burke said. "I thought they were not strong on their skates at all. They got knocked down a lot, and I didn't like their foot speed."

The second time Burke saw them play, he changed his mind.

"That's when you could first see this crazy stuff that they do, this twin stuff," Burke told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.

"They'll pass the puck to a seemingly empty patch of ice and then right when the puck gets there, a twin skates into it."

Through a series of trades with the Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Atlanta Thrashers, Burke drafted both Sedin twins.

"It was a lot of work, I was a zombie after it was done, but I think it worked out well," he said.

"We did take a chance because, if you go back and look at the media coverage after we made those deals, it wasn't greeted with acclaim."

Canucks star forwards Henrik Sedin, left, and his twin brother Daniel, are retiring at the end of the NHL season. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Deep legacy in Vancouver

Seventeen seasons later with the Canucks, there is no question of the two players' legacy in Vancouver.

Both players have more than 1,000 career NHL points — 1,068 for Henrik and 1,038 for Daniel — and advanced with the Canucks to the 2011 Stanley Cup final, though lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7.

"It's been a great gift for the City of Vancouver to have these kids," Burke said.

"It's not just that they are special hockey players, anyone can see that, but also what they've done in the community and the difference they've made."

Henrik Sedin laughs with children during a Vancouver Canucks team visit to the B.C. Children's Hospital in January 2018. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The twins volunteered extensively around B.C.'s Lower Mainland with the Sedin Family Foundation, which they created in 2014, and donated $1.5 million to help build the new B.C. Children's Hospital in 2010.

"The donations they've made and the time they've spent — it's been a wonderful addition to the province and the city," said Burke. "They consider Vancouver home and I think Vancouver is better for it."

The Canucks have three games left in the season, with the Sedins' last game on Saturday in Edmonton against the Oilers.

With files from The Early Edition.

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