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Horse Racing: The Ultimate Gift

Published: February 15, 2020 5:08 pm ET

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The names of Daniel and Henrik Sedin are famous in hockey circles and the Swedish-born twins are Hockey Hall of Fame-bound in the eyes of many. Recently the Sedins had their numbers retired by the NHL's Vancouver Canucks and horse racing played a major role in the retirement ceremony.

Daniel & Henrik Sedin at Mohawk in 2016

The Sedins joined the Canucks organization at the 1999 NHL Draft when the club traded up to select Daniel at No. 2 and Henrik at No. 3. Henrik is the club's all-time leader in assists (830), points (1,070) and games played (1,330), while Daniel sits atop the Canucks' goals list (393) and ranks second in each of the other categories. On Wednesday, Daniel's #22 and Henrik's #33 were sent to the rafters with the numbers of four other Canucks' greats (#10, Pavel Bure; #12; Stan Smyl; #16, Trevor Linden and #19, Marcus Naslund) to mark just the fifth and sixth players in franchise history to have numbers retired by the club.

"You're the two best players and people to ever wear the Canucks jersey," said former teammate Kevin Bieska during the retirement ceremony at the Rogers Arena. "We love you guys and there's no one more deserving of this honour. Skol!"

"Daniel and Henrik, you guys have given so much of yourselves on and off the ice all these years, we're hoping tonight it can be your turn to receive," said Canucks' play-by-play commentator John Shorthouse. And with that, he asked the Sedins to join Canucks' Chairman and owner Francesco Aquilini and Alternate Governor Paolo Aquilini for a special presentation.

As a gift from the Canucks, the Sedins will be headed for Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

Paolo (L) and Francesco Aquilini (R) flank Daniel & Henrik Sedin at their retirement ceremony

"We know how much you love horses, so the Canucks organization and the Aquilinis thought it was fitting to give to you both a VIP experience at the 2021 Running of the Roses, the Kentucky Derby," said Shorthouse. "It is amazing, you could catch them in the corner of the dressing room on the computer watching horse racing from back in Sweden, and seeing how their horses were doing. A little more time for that now!"

The Sedins take a break from practice in 2013 to watch racing from Sweden

The Canucks' players then presented the Sedins with a trip to a destination of their choice.

Given their participation in the Standardbred side of the sport, and given their knowledge of the Hambletonian, one wonders if that might be a trip to a location like East Rutherford, N.J. around the start of August.

Longtime horse owners in Sweden, the Sedins have already captured one of the most coveted races on the trotting side, courtesy the 2013 Elitlopp win of Nahar.

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