Henrik Sedin has a favourite player and he isn’t his brother Danny. He isn’t Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid nor any of the many Swedes in the National Hockey League. He’s Joe Thornton.

Since the summer after their 1999 draft by the Vancouver Canucks when Henrik and Daniel Sedin travelled from Ornskoldsvik, Sweden to attend a conditioning camp in Penticton organized by their agents, Hank has admired Thornton. The centre from St. Thomas, Ont., had been drafted two years earlier by the Boston Bruins and was also at the Okanagan camp.

“Joe was there because he had the same agent,” Henrik, 37, said before the Canucks lost 5-0 to the Sharks on Saturday. “He was the guy we saw first. And ever since, I’ve followed him throughout his career because we play the same way. I mean, he’s bigger and stronger, but he likes to pass. I’ve always loved him. He has always been my favourite player.”

This partiality has withstood the 12 years that Thornton has played for the Sharks after he was traded by the Bruins into the same division as the Sedins in 2005.

For the first eight of those years, the Canucks and Sharks won more games than any other team in the NHL’s Western Conference. They were fierce Pacific Division rivals. The Sharks, like all teams, did everything they could to physically abuse and in any way stop the Sedins. Thornton, who is from London, Ont., contributed to this cause.