Canucks and Beyond

Talking Twins

01/26/2008 at 2:08pm EST

A couple weeks ago, Tom Benjamin made his case for why he thought the NHL should have taken Daniel Sedin along with his brother Henrik to the All Star Game in Atlanta this weekend:

With both players they have a good hockey story to market over the All-Star weekend. Separated, the Sedins are merely good players. Together, they are unique not just in hockey, but in all of sports. They aren’t just identical twins - they perform a twin act. Together at the game they would generate trivia about previous brother acts in All Star games and human interest. They might even deliver up a memorable shift against All-Star checking. They are different in a business where different is good.

A fair point considering the ASG is about showmanship, but there are also some obvious reasons why it doesn’t work either. At least by the measures by which players are currently selected for the game.

Still, twins are a fairly unique phenomenon in sports and as Randy Shore points out in today’s Vancouver Sun, there have only been five sets of twins that have come through the NHL. But until Daniel and Henrik Sedin, none have achieved any level of “mythology” until now:

Consummate myth-builder Brian Burke—the man whose devious and heroic machinations brought us the Sedins—insisted they had a special ability to communicate with each other. A myth was born, one that would be promoted through the writings of sports reporters ad nauseum.

There is something uncanny about Henrik’s ability to find his brother with a seeing-eye pass when it is obvious he could not have seen him streaking to the far post. But when a bumbling cityside reporter asks them if they are telepathic, the twins answer in perfect stereo.

NO.

It is a well-rehearsed answer by a pair of overly scrutinized brothers. That scrutiny will visit itself upon Henrik alone during the NHL All-Star Game Sunday in Atlanta, as he will play in the game while brother Daniel watches on TV. The hockey world will be watching to see if Henrik has a psychic connection with Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg.

A psychic connection with Zetterberg?? *shudder* :)

But to continue…

Canada and Sweden both keep careful records of twins and track them throughout their lives. Henrik and Daniel both recall taking part in twin studies for the medical establishment.

“But no experiments,” Henrik insisted.

Asked 10 different ways to elaborate on their differences, Henrik and Daniel consistently agreed there are few differences between them. When they do argue, it is usually about hockey or who left toast crumbs in the margarine. Perhaps less so now that they have separate homes.

Swedish teammates Sami Salo and Mattias Ohlund both identified Henrik as the more spontaneous, outgoing Sedin. Henrik and Daniel say no.

“Daniel is more social with family and friends,” Henrik said.

Teammates say you can see differences between the twins on the ice.

“Henrik is one of the top passers in the game,” said Canucks forward Trevor Linden, adding it is what Henrik does before the highlight reel starts that creates goals. “Sometimes you just skate back to the bench and say ‘Wow.’”

Daniel and Henrik insist they are equally and similarly talented as hockey players.

“We were both playmakers growing up,” Henrik said. “When we were 12 we were put on the same line and the coach chose me to play centre.”

The very fact that these sorts of questions come up again and again (which Vancouver fans more than all others would know) there’s no question that the state of being twins attracts enormous attention to the Sedins. And even if they were crap players, I doubt things would be much different.

But as stars of their team, the impact of their genetics on their PR is that much greater. I think Benjamin was right that the NHL could have marketed the twin circus rather well.

Perhaps we’ll see such a show in a future All Star Game.

Meanwhile, this week the NHL’s camera interviewed both players, and they’re obviously fine with the singular selection of Henrik. Nothing too substantial in the videos below, just a short Q&A with each brother.

Henrik Sedin

Daniel Sedin

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