As hockey players make news for knees to the head and gloved punches to the face, a University of Victoria study has some advice – be more like the Sedins.
The multiyear study, published Tuesday in the PHEnex Journal, says Daniel and Henrik Sedin – star forwards for the Vancouver Canucks – are the gold standard when it comes to an area known as servant leadership.
The study, conducted by education professor Carolyn Crippen, said servant leadership develops caring, respectful, inclusive communities, and the twins scored well on all seven of its pillars.
“In this time of societal violence, especially in hockey, perhaps the modelling of the Sedins, amidst their elite status and servant-leader attitude can be a beacon for youth today,” Dr. Crippen wrote in the journal, a physical and health education periodical.
“The Sedins have told me ‘they are not into mean as an approach.’ Daniel and Henrik Sedin demonstrate proficiency, diligence, empathy, civic values, inclusivity, and continual growth of self and others, which certainly contributes to building better serving communities, both on and off the ice.”
Dr. Crippen, in an interview, said she first came up with the idea for the study in 2009. She had recently moved to B.C. from Manitoba and was watching a Canucks game when she noticed two of the players were twins, and had matching red beards.
As she watched closer, she said, she noticed the twins were unique in their demeanour, in the way they interacted with teammates, opponents and officials.
She said she had never before considered servant leadership could exist in hockey and started recording every Canucks game. She interviewed the Sedins for 75 minutes in November, 2011.
She said the twins consistently cited the importance of their parents, and two older brothers.
“We were taught from early on about helping, and helping out, that we were important in our family. When we were sitting around and talking, that our thoughts and ideas were as important as anyone else’s,” Henrik Sedin was quoted as saying. “Even from when we were little. And also, we had two brothers … they always let us be involved with their friends and what they were doing and I think that taught us a lot of things when we grew up.”
Both players stressed the importance of community building, with Henrik – who is six minutes older – saying it’s important to bring out the best in everyone, and have them feel they’re part of the team. Added Daniel: “I think having everyone realize that they can be a leader at a certain moment, and then … you’ve got to let them handle the situation and make them grow. I think when you have that, everyone’s taking a step and getting better, as a person, as a player. That’s when you can kind of take a step back and you don’t need to be a leader any more.” Dr. Crippen said the Sedins appear unique in their leadership approach, though additional research into other hockey players must be conducted. She’s planning to publish a followup piece in the International Journal of Servant Leadership.