Work in Sports
NORTHWEST DIVISION |
4 Vancouver Canucks
Team Page | 2000-2001 Schedule | Roster
Sports Illustrated Ranking: 24
By Eric Duhatschek
For the Canucks, training camp was like one of those classic-rock stations that plays Stairway to Heaven over and over. It was all-Sedins, all-the-time. Here were the 20-year-old twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, being mobbed in Stockholm when Vancouver kicked off its preseason schedule in their native Sweden. There they were deluged with interview requests in Toronto on the day after they arrived in North America. Here they were being prodded, poked and examined in a frenzy of attention that the NHL hadn't seen since Eric Lindros appeared on the scene almost 10 years ago. The irony is that few observers believe that the 6'1", 200-pound left wing Daniel and 6'2", 200-pound center Henrik, the second and third draft choices, respectively, in 1999, will make or break the Canucks' fortunes this season.
With top center Mark Messier gone through free agency, Vancouver plans to be a four-line team, which should relieve some of the pressure on the Sedins. "The expectations are that we'll want them to chip in," says assistant coach Mike Johnston about the twins, who were impressive in the preseason. "The more they chip in, the better we're going to be. But we're not necessarily going to count on these guys to save Vancouver."
Post-Messier, the new No. 1 center is Andrew Cassels, a career No. 2, who was paired in camp with team captain Markus Naslund (27 goals and 38 assists last season) and improving 23-year-old wing Peter Schaefer (16 and 15). "We have a lot of young guys competing for a few spots," says Naslund. "They're hungry, and it makes for a different atmosphere."
The Canucks, who were 30-37-15-8 in 1999-2000, begin the season in much better shape on defense than a year ago, when hard-hitting Ed Jovanovski and hard-shooting Adrian Aucoin were unsigned and All-Star Mattias Ohlund was hurt. All are happy and healthy now. In the second half of last season Vancouver's play took a quantum leap, thanks in large part to the return to form of 29-year-old goaltender Felix Potvin, who was acquired from the Islanders in December and went 12-13-7 with a 2.59 goals-against average with the Canucks.
Since losing in the 1994 Stanley Cup finals, Vancouver has not had a winning season, and it has missed the playoffs for four years running. Sedinmania will make this team more attractive at the box office, but it remains to be seen how much difference it will make on the ice.
Issue date: October 16, 2000
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