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Identity Crisis

Friday, 23.03.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
Vancouver Canucks
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Identity Crisis
Lots of things in life are difficult. Becoming an astronaut is one of them. I didn't even try.

And though it's been more than 20 years, I still get anxious when I see a Rubik's Cube at a garage sale. Those things are stumpers. I was better at "solving' them with a hammer than with my hands.

And then there are The Twins. I can't tell them apart. Seriously, it's harder than you think. My tactic is to wait till they sit down to peel their equipment off. Then I just read the name on the locker.

Either that or I start the conversation off with "Daniel or Henrik?" But that just doesn't feel right. Apparently I'm not alone.

"Nope, not quite yet," admits Jeff Cowan, the newest Canuck. "I'm still working on it."

The ginger-haired grinder who flew in from sunny L.A. at the end of December caught a lot of flack when he first landed because of his resemblance to the Sedins. He's hardly the "third twin", but Cowan looks like he could be a close relative with the red goatee and the squarish face.

"It's hard," he says. "I thought I'd be able to pick out a few things to tell them apart, but I still haven't been able to do it."

"And as far as I know, a lot of the guys who have been here a year or two still can't tell them apart."

Most say they can, though hard proof is tough to come by. Willie Mitchell insists he isn't pretending. "I won't lie to you, it took me awhile. But now I got it."

Mitchell played half the season before he finally worked it out. Even now he says he gets it right only 80 percent of the time. It all depends on how they're standing.

"I can tell them apart in a heartbeat if they're head-on. Profile is a little tougher, but head on, I got it."

His wife Megan was the one who leaked the secret.

"I was telling her for the longest time that I couldn't tell them apart. To be honest, she was the one who helped me out early on because she was talking to Daniel's wife [Marinette] and she told her how. Now it's easy. "

"Easy" might be overstating it. Even Henrik admits he sometimes gets confused when he's looking at pictures.

That's just weird. But it's not the weirdest; at least not to Hank.

"When someone comes up to you and thinks you're Daniel and starts asking questions, and you answer them, and then Daniel walks up and I've been lying for a couple of minutes. That might be the weirdest thing."

Yes, they're that similar. It's not just their appearance either.

They both take their coffee the same way (black), eat their eggs boiled (for seven minutes), and agree that former Modo teammate Mattias Weinhandl has been the best linemate for them, chemistry-wise, at least to date. That's not to say there aren't differences. Henrik has slightly larger feet, but even that's dodgy at best.

"There was one game last year where the twins sat side-by-side and their skates got mixed up," says Jamie Hendricks, the Canucks' assistant equipment manager.

"They went for two or three days wearing one left and one right of each other's skates. Then we finally realized by looking at the number on the bottom that it was the wrong pair."

"Yeah, that happened," admits Daniel. "We have pretty much the same size feet, so it's easy to do."

I don't ask about laundry mishaps, and Hendricks doesn't bring it up.

"It's been a couple of years," he says. "Henrik has more narrow cheekbones. At least that's the way I tell them apart and I'm right most of the time. And if I'm not sure, I just say Hey guys.'"

And what about the twins? What do they say their most telling differences are? Chances are if one shows up earlier than the other, it's Daniel.

"He always wants to be on time," says Henrik. "If the bus leaves at 10:30, he'll be down there at 9:45 sitting there waiting. I tell him, but he always says, We gotta go, we gotta go!'"

Naturally, the two are roommates on the road, so Hank gets needled regularly.

"That's because he always sleeps in," explains Daniel. "Yeah I know, I know, but it's true. He sleeps in and I always have to wake him up."

And by Daniel's own admission, Henrik's better at trivia, or maybe he is just a better schemer.

"We usually fight over who orders breakfast on the road. You have to call down [for room service] and open the door and all that."

"He always tries to make it a game like sports trivia or something. It's pretty fun, but he usually wins. That's why he does it."

Henrik says they mostly fight about on-ice stuff, like who should've been where and why the pass didn't get through. They hash that stuff out on the bench. Every so often the coaches chime in, though that's usually fruitless.

"I don't think the coaches have a clue [who is who]," says Daniel. "That's pretty fun."

Like when one twins gets instructions that are meant for the other.

"We just listen and then go tell the other one what [coach] said. It's so much easier. It's a bit tough when they're ticked off and they tell you something. Then I just say it wasn't me it was Hank."

I've flipped my brother double birds for far less than that. Heck, when I was three I bounced the fat end of a ball-peen hammer off his head for refusing to let me shoot his pellet gun. He still complains about it. Clearly we would have made poor twins. The whole point is to stick together.

Danny and Hank spent most of their childhoods battling older brothers Peter (four years) and Stefan (six years). That's why they're so good at working together.

"It was always me and Henrik against those two," says Danny.

Cooperation didn't help much. They still took a lot of abuse.

"Yeah, we did," says Daniel. "We all get along really good now though."

"Getting along" seems to be a Sedin family trait.

"People always ask us if we've got some kind of weird chemistry out there on the ice that we can just tell where the other guy is going to be," explains Henrik. "We've got chemistry, but it's because we've played together for a long time."

Since they were 13 to be precise. And fair enough, 12 years is enough time for Don Cherry and Dick Pound to find a little harmony, but eerie "twins things" do happen. Like a few years back when the two exchanged random birthday gifts.

"We gave each other the same t-shirt with a picture of our horse on it," says Daniel. "We didn't know about it, but we each gave the other one the same shirt. It was just a plain t-shirt that we got on the internet."

For the record, their horse's name is Roland and he's won three races since they bought him together a few years back "just for fun." So they get along. And they might have some kind of freaky chemistry even though they say they don't, but how am I supposed to tell them apart?

"I have a longer beard," says Daniel.

"It's tough to say, but the faces for sure," says Henrik. "There are some differences in the facial structure."

They hardly colour code it for you. Thankfully, Mitchell knows the true divining secret.

"It's absolutely fool proof," he says. "I don't want to give this away, but it's in the teeth. Danny has really straight teeth. I'm guessing he must have had some kind of orthodontic work. Hank's aren't quite as straight."

Not exactly the golden fleece I was hoping for, but it's better than reading the bottom of the skates or comparing beards. In the end, I think it boils down to simply going with your gut.

Henrik says if you don't know, just come up and say, Hey guys.'" He's good with that. He says it beats asking which is which.

At least, I think that was Henrik. He wasn't smiling so I couldn't be sure.