Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/2/13
Of all the roster decisions he must still make and habits his players must still break John Tortorella knew this much with the regular-season opener looming: The grind and pace he’s preaching to forge an identity for the Vancouver Canucks has been easier to achieve because his best players have been his best pupils. There’s no debate about the captaincy and how a pair of proven 33-year-old forwards in Henrik and Daniel Sedin will adapt to additional ice time the penalty kill and even shot-blocking. “They’ve impressed me from Day 1 — just how they handle themselves” Tortorella said Tuesday. “We don’t want to get in the way of their creativity and what’s been good for me as a new coach is that they want it. They want to be complete players and were pissed off they weren’t killing penalties. And they want to grind and show people they can do that also. “That’s what they’re about. They’re always looking to get better.” Compensation for all that has always been as intriguing as the Sedins’ creativity. They each left $1 million US annually on the table five years ago when the Toronto Maple Leafs were courting the unrestricted free agents. They opted for familiarity and security with a competitive club and now find themselves at the crossroads again. With expiring $6.1-million contracts at the end of this season the twins can look at how Phil Kessel avoided unrestricted free agency Tuesday by signing an eight-year $64-million extension with the Maple Leafs and either salivate or put the numbers into proper perspective. Kessel is seven years younger was eighth in NHL scoring with 52 points (20-32) in the lockout-shortened season and will pocket $10 million in each of the first two years of the extension and $6 million annually in the final two. “It’s a good deal” said Henrik. “He’s young and shown he can produce.” So where do the Sedins slot in with their extensions? Canucks general manager Mike Gillis wouldn’t comment but term is an obvious hurdle because they want to finish their careers here. Another five-year deal kicking in next fall would play out at age 39 and in the interim there are factors for both sides to consider. The Sedins have leverage because the trickle-down effect of a departure via free agency would leave a giant competitive void with an aging roster and prospects not ready for prime time. Then again waiting could invite injury as the twins log bigger minutes and are expected to fall in front of shots. But the Sedins have been durable. Henrik’s iron-man streak goes back nine seasons and it took a Duncan Keith elbow that concussed Daniel to keep him from being an everyday player the last three seasons. “We know what we have and they know what they have in us” added Henrik. “If there’s going to be an injury or our production is down or if the penalty kill is good or bad — I don’t think that’s a big deal. It’s more getting a deal with both parties happy. I don’t think we’re guys who are focused on what kind of deal we’re going to get. It’s always been about getting better. “When they come to us and have something for us then we’ll talk about it. I won’t be negotiating so I’m good. I’m going to play hockey. If we take care of what we can do everything will take care of itself.”
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