There are two words in the world of sports that give general managers Agita, while agents and players lick their lips: contract year.
Ironically, more times than not, those two words go hand in hand with another word pairing...career year.
Isn't it funny how players, not only in hockey, but in all sports, have these fascinating seasons when it's time for them to ink their name to a nice, new contract at season's end?
They get their deal, they buy their multi-million dollar homes. They buy their brand new Maseratis, and home theater systems. And then, for the next five-to-seven years, they proceed to play like District 5 before Gordon Bombay morphed them into the Mighty Ducks.
That is not the case with the Sedin twins of the Vancouver Canucks.
Last season, both Henrik and Daniel put up large numbers, each finishing the season with 82 points. For Henrik, it was the most points he has produced in his career, while he spiked his goal total into the 20s for the first time since entering the NHL.
Daniel, although finishing two points fewer than his career high, had a much better year than the previous season, and had the most assists he'd ever had in a single NHL season.
Shocking news: it was their contract year!
Unlike their previous three bouts with free agency, the Sedin twins finally began to tap into their potential during the three seasons since their last contract.
After long, strenuous discussions between GM Mike Gillis and the twins' agent J.P. Barry, both sides agreed on identical, five-year, $30.5 million deals.
Now, with their large pay increase—each was previously earning $3.75 million—the path was set for their inescapable journey towards mediocrity and salary cap strangulation. Except the twins decided to stray off that path and take the road less traveled.
Unlike the Jason Blakes, Scott Gomezes, Chris Drurys, and Wade Reddens of the NHL, the Sedins have played the way a player should after signing a large contract: earn your money.
Through 57 games this season, Henrik has put himself into serious Hart Trophy contention. With 78 points, he is second only to Alex Ovechkin, and is second in the league with assists, 53, only behind Joe Thornton of San Jose.
He has also shattered his previous career-high in goals, scoring 25 already. His previous marker was the 22 he scored last season. Not only is he posting remarkable numbers, but he's done it while playing without something for the first time in his career: Daniel.
On Oct. 7, just the fourth game of the season, Daniel fractured his foot after getting hit with a shot by his own teammate in Montreal.
The period of 18 games he missed was the longest stretch of time the twins had gone without playing with each other; and was the nightmare Gillis must have been imagining while signing the deals.
Henrik quickly put Gillis' worries to rest by getting off to a torrid start without his brother at his side.
Although missing that time with the injury, Daniel's season has been equally as impressive as Henrik's since he returned.
Through 39 games, Daniel has scored 16 goals and tallied 36 assists, for 52 points.
The great performances by the twins were enough to get them some extra playing time on Vancouver's ice. Both Henrik and Daniel were selected to represent Team Sweden in the Olympics, of course being held on their home rink in Vancouver. This will be the second Olympic Games for the twins, as they made their debut in 2006 in Torino, winning a Gold medal.
Athletes in sports should take a page out of these two Swedes' book: earn your money, and once you get it, KEEP EARNING IT!
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