The NHL, much like any other professional sports league, is a business that thrives off of its best performers.
They love to show off their top athletes and promote them as celebrities and heroic figures to fans all over the world. They shower these players with publicity and use them to hopefully get more fans interested in their league.
But every so often, there is a superstar that seems to fit in better on the second or third step of the podium instead of at the top. He somehow avoids the spotlight, despite his all-star performances, and is more comfortable praising others than promoting himself.
This humble hero is Henrik Sedin.
Yes, he is the captain of the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks. But the letter "C" on his jersey is perhaps the only thing that makes him stand out from anyone else on his team, let alone the other heroes of the NHL.
Henrik and his twin brother Daniel are two of the quietest and most unassuming people you will ever meet. They don’t look or act like superstar athletes and they don’t get marketed like superstars either.
But at least Daniel scores some goals. He had 41 of them this season and has broken the 30-goal plateau two other times in his career as well.
Henrik, on the other hand, rarely even tries to score. He prefers to pass and often goes out of his way not to shoot because his slap shot probably can’t even break a thin pane of glass.
But he always gets the job done and usually finds himself at the top of the score sheet most nights.
Henrik might be the less flashy of two already quiet twins, but last year his name sat next to the names Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby on the NHL MVP ballot. Needless to say, it looked very underwhelming and was easily the least sexy choice.
But once again, he got the job done and took the award home.
Most media members and fans of the Canucks like to think they give Henrik the credit he deserves and don’t care about his pass first attitude and quiet demeanor.
However, the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs prove otherwise.
In the first two rounds, he was the most criticized of any Canucks player, even more so than his brother. At least Daniel had six goals. The only thing Henrik had put up in that category was one measly empty netter.
But now when you look at the NHL playoff scoring leaders, he’s at the top of the list. How did that happen? It happened quietly, that’s for sure.
One could have foreseen that Henrik and his brother would turn things around against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals. I even wrote an article less than two weeks ago predicting they’d pick it up in the third round thanks to the Sharks top defensive pairing not being as stifling as the top D-men from the Nashville Predators or the Chicago Blackhawks.
But even Henrik’s one goal and 11 assists in the series didn’t get the attention it should have. Instead, all people wanted to talk about was the big goals of Kevin Bieksa, the play of Roberto Luongo and the continuous warrior-like attitude of Ryan Kesler.
Meanwhile, there’s Henrik off in the background doing his thing without a whole lot of praise being directed his way. In the series clinching victory, all he did was notch two assists and he was on the ice for the game-winner in double-overtime. No big deal.
Only Henrik Sedin could record 12 points in a five-game conference final series without being the center of attention. The combination of his humble attitude, his lack of highlight reel goals and his selflessness both on and off the ice make him hard to notice.
But hasn’t he been doing this long enough to get a little more attention?
The answer is obviously yes, but he doesn’t care because he’s the polite one. He’s the passive personality that leads with a quiet confidence and he’s proof that it’s not always the loud dog that gets the bone.