Saturday, April 7, 2018

Saturday storylines: The Sedins say goodbye

Welcome to what was supposed to be the final night of the NHL regular season. Tomorrow’s makeup game between the Panthers and Bruins threw a wrench in things, but never mind that — the league is hitting us with everything they have tonight, with the maximum 15 games on the schedule and everyone other than the Penguins in action.

HNIC Game of the Night: Canucks at Oilers

As far as the standings go, this one barely matters. The only meaningful stakes are a few percentage points worth of lottery odds, and maybe Connor McDavid‘s final push for Hart Trophy votes.

But some things are more important than wins or losses or individual honours. And to fans across the country looking at the big picture, tonight represents something much more: Their last chance to see the Sedin twins in action.

It’s been a whirlwind week since the Sedins dropped the Monday bombshell that they wouldn’t be returning for an 18th season. The announcement led to an emotional Tuesday night against the Golden Knights, one that saw each twin take a rare turn in the shootout in front of the Vancouver crowd. That was followed by Thursday’s final home game, one that ended just about perfectly.

Through it all, tributes have poured in from around the hockey world, with fans, media, teammates, opponents and community leaders lining up to sing the twins’ praises. In a league where it’s relatively rare to see players make it through long careers without being turned into villains by at least some segment of the fan base, the Sedins are going out with near-universal respect and admiration.

The only negative has been the schedule, which inconveniently serves up a road game for the Canucks’ season finale. But if the Sedins’ final bow couldn’t be in Vancouver, Edmonton isn’t a bad second choice. There’s even a little symmetry in play – longtime Oiler Ryan Smyth had his final game against the Canucks four years ago, one that even saw his opponents return to the ice to show their respect.

We can expect something similar from the Oilers and their fans tonight, much like the moment that Jarome Iginla and the Flames once provided for another beloved Canuck. And if history is any guide, the Sedins will take it all in stride, without much in the way of fanfare or drama.

Vancouver fans, maybe not so much. It would be hard to blame them, and you can bet that more than a few fans of other teams will be cheering along with them.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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