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Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin participates in practice for Game 4 of the team's NHL Western Conference quarter-final hockey playoff against the Los Angeles Kings. (DANNY MOLOSHOK/Reuters)
Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin participates in practice for Game 4 of the team's NHL Western Conference quarter-final hockey playoff against the Los Angeles Kings. (DANNY MOLOSHOK/Reuters)

Eric Duhatschek

Daniel Sedin to the rescue? Add to ...

It is difficult to distinguish what actually represented the biggest news of the day Tuesday.

That Daniel Sedin practised with the Vancouver Canucks for the first time since he was concussed by an elbow to the head from a Chicago Blackhawks player during the regular season? An interesting development for sure.

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That Sedin spoke at length for the first time about the concussion that had sidelined him for the past month, and how the convalescence went? Lots of insight there, too, including that he couldn't even play tag with his children for a time, because of the headaches he was experiencing.

Or maybe it was that the Canucks' top goal-scorer could conceivably rejoin the lineup in time for what may be the final game of their season. That's iffy, but Sedin is - above all else - smart enough to weigh the risks against the rewards and make the right call.

In the big picture, Sedin's health is - or better be - the primary determining factor in whether he plays Game 4 of the Western Conference quarter-final Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings.

To risk further injury when his game-conditioning still leaves something to be desired would be foolish at this stage, with Vancouver behind 3-0 and needing a miracle to win the series anyway.

Thankfully, Sedin seems fully apprised of what's at stake and plans to do the right thing - play if he feels up to it, and sit if he doesn't. Good.

More and more players need to think that way, and they do. Finally, that part of the culture is gradually changing. Too often in the past, players would focus on the smaller, right-this-instant picture, and put themselves back in because, hey, these are the playoffs after all. And the Canucks understand that if Sedin goes back in, he becomes a target.

“Just because he's one of their top players,” explained Kings captain Dustin Brown, “and that's no different than why people are finishing their checks on Henrik [Sedin]and [Ryan]Kesler and all their top players. That's the key to a long playoff run - being hard on top players and making it hard on them. When you let those guys off the hook, they're going to make you pay.”

Thus far, Brown has been the player making the Canucks pay. With four goals in the series, he has the same number of goals as the Canucks have collectively managed in three games. As coach Alain Vigneault was at pains to point out again Tuesday, the Canucks need some of their difference-makers to come through in the series.

Daniel Sedin spent the practice session Tuesday afternoon skating on a line with his brother Henrik, and David Booth, a left-handed shot, playing the right wing. Booth is big and fast and the long history of players who get a chance to ride shotgun with the Sedins is that they can sometimes significantly raise the level of their play (hello Anson Carter!) when flanked by that creative duo.

Even if Sedin didn't arrive on a white charger to save the day, his presence - even at practice - provided an emotional lift to a Canucks team that was looking for help at every turn.

Sedin said he would wait until just before puck drop Wednesday before making a decision about playing. His mood, attitude and body language were all largely positive and suggested cautious optimism.

On the one hand, Sedin said: “I would never play unless I'm 100 per cent. That's been made clear to me, and that's been my goal all along. If I don't feel right tomorrow, I'm not going to play. I don't want to go through this again.”

On the other hand, Sedin noted: “It's been a while since I've had those bad headaches. It feels really good right now.”

Moreover, Sedin said he was prepared to return in a more limited role, even if it meant focusing on the power play, if that's how he could be of the most use to his team.

In the meantime, Sedin said he couldn't bring himself to do more than monitor the first three games of the series on television.

“It's nerve racking,” he said, after speaking at length about how his recovery was as an “up-and-down” process that differed significantly from other injuries he's suffered in the past.

“Some moments, I've been feeling pretty good,” he said. “Some moments, I've been very sick ... When it happened, I thought, okay, it's a week and then I'm back. Then a week and a half went by and I was still wasn't feeling good. Then two weeks. You wake up everyday expecting to feel good and it's still there. So that's the tough part.”

Sedin received input from teammates David Booth and Keith Ballard, plus fellow Swede Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals about how to handle the recovery.

“First, you worry about the hockey,” he said. “Then you worry about getting rid of the headache. I think once I got to that point - just to make sure I'm 100 per cent healthy in every day life, I think that mentally that was big for me.”

Mentally, physically and every which way, Sedin's return could be big for the Canucks too. Stay tuned to your television sets people. His presence will be, in the most literal sense of the term, a game-time decision.

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