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Sedins hoping to stay together for this All-Star Game

Thursday, 26.01.2012 / 1:06 PM / Features
By Kevin Woodley
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Sedins hoping to stay together for this All-Star Game

Daniel Sedin would prefer to play with brother Henrik at the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game allowing the twins to showcase the ESP-like chemistry that got them there in the first place.

Henrik could care less, just so long as the novelty of splitting the Canucks' identical top-line forwards doesn't put them back in the media spotlight for a second-straight season, a situation both were uncomfortable with at the last All-Star Fantasy Player Draft.

If not, the mirror image Swedes always could consider punishing their antagonists with a switcheroo. They're both certain the only ones that could tell would be teammates.

"No," Henrik said definitively when asked if anyone other than fellow Canucks All-Stars Alexander Elder and Cody Hodgson would notice. "You're right, we should do that."

"If you want to talk about our play on the ice, we're on the same line and we're a big part of each other's games. And off the ice, we're very similar, too, so you can't really say that I'm one guy and he's a different guy. We think the same way about a lot of different things and that's just the way it is," says Daniel Sedin.

They won't, Henrik added, even if it's worked a couple of times in the past.

The Sedins swapped places once for a post-game television interview six years ago, and there was a game back in Sweden when Henrik was tossed out of the faceoff circle, skated a loop around his brother, and came back in to take the draw. No one noticed then, and Canucks teammates are certain no one else would at the All-Star Game.

"Not a chance," said goaltender Roberto Luongo.

Splitting the Sedins never has been easy.

The only reason for a 16-point separation in career points -- Henrik has 718 to Daniel's 702, a point he'll playfully remind his brother of -- are the 24 games Daniel has missed with injury, while Henrik's ironman streak is at 548 games and counting.

The obvious similarities are nature, but some are nurture. Not only have they played on the same line most of their lives, but they always were in the same classes. Even as adults with kids of their own now, their families still spend a lot of time together, whether in Vancouver or in Sweden, where they also co-own a stable of racehorses.

That's not to say there aren't differences between two players so often celebrated for their similarities. And they go well beyond Henrik's role as the pass-first center to Daniel's quick-release goal-scorer on the wing.

For all the failed attempts to split the twins over 11 seasons in the NHL -- "The (2011) All-Star Game was the first time they really got the chance to do it, so I understood it was going to happen," Henrik said -- there are differences off the ice, too. But other than Daniel being left-handed and Henrik right-handed, they can be tough to tell apart. The Sedins have tired of attempts to split them up, though they still can have fun with it.

 "This is a good interview, it's like seeing a psychiatrist," Daniel said with a laugh during one such effort last season. "It's tough. If you want to talk about our play on the ice, we're on the same line and we're a big part of each other's games. And off the ice, we're very similar, too, so you can't really say that I'm one guy and he's a different guy. We think the same way about a lot of different things and that's just the way it is."

Defenseman Kevin Bieksa figured out one difference when he lived in the same building as Henrik and often would spot Daniel waiting for his brother in the parking lot.

Despite being the Canucks' captain, Henrik has a bad habit of running late.

"Danny's always on time," Edler said. "Henrik is always a couple minutes late."

It drives his punctual younger brother (by minutes) crazy.

"He hates when people are late," Henrik said. "I'm usually late."

Within that dynamic, Bieksa said Daniel emerges as the more "responsible" of these road-trip roommates, dictating their schedule and keeping Henrik "in line."

"Hank is going to say he's the one in charge, for sure," Bieksa has said of the differences. "And Danny might even say nobody is just because he's a humble kind of guy. But we all know Danny is the one in charge. And Hank still wants to retain that older-brother status, too, so he tries to boss Danny around sometimes and Danny takes it, which is the funny thing. But Danny is usually the one in charge when push comes to shove."

Edler, who knows them as well as anyone after being taken under their collective wing when he made the move from Sweden to Vancouver, seemed to agree with Bieksa.

"Danny might be in charge. He makes the more smart decisions," Edler said with a mischievous grin. "They are twins, but they are still two different people."

They both are competitive, especially when playing against each other, a characteristic the twins say has driven them to constant physical improvement each summer, a big part of their evolution from point-a-game players to consecutive scoring titles. If having a training partner is the best way to work out, having one you hate to lose to is even better.

"They are competitive at everything they do," Ryan Kesler said. "They want to beat each other at everything: cards on the plane, ping pong, soccer before games, whatever."

Daniel is better on flights, said linemate Alexandre Burrows, while Henrik is "scared" at takeoff, or when there is turbulence. Burrows also thinks Henrik is a bit funnier and "likes to crack jokes more," which seems odd to Henrik because Daniel was the comic when they were growing up. But Henrik concedes he may be "a bit louder now."

"Hank's a bit more outgoing," Luongo said. "Danny is a bit more reserved. It's subtle."

For all the attempts to uncover those differences, there's no doubt the twins are better on the ice when they are together, with Henrik setting it up and Daniel knocking it down.

Watching the Sedins saucer pucks across the ice to each other in practice -- sometimes from one end of the rink to the other -- over the last decade, always landing flush and flat on the other's stick, it's hard to imagine why anyone would want to deprive the fans of seeing that. The twins brought back the slap pass into the slot for a tip, and last season invented the intentional icing that's really a breakaway pass. So why not see what else they can come up with in the wide-open format of an All-Star Game, rather than robbing them of the thing that makes them so special: each other. No wonder Daniel hopes they play together.

"I think it would be fun," said Daniel, who was considering a call to fellow Swede and All-Star Game captain Daniel Alfredsson through their mutual agent in the hopes it would help. "We played together pretty much our whole lives and our whole career over here, and it could be our last chance to be in the All-Star Game together, too."

As for which twin really us in charge, it may not matter. Daniel may arrive first, but if he's the one waiting around, isn't Henrik really dictating the schedule?

"Well, he thinks he's in charge," Henrik said of Daniel.

"I am in charge," said Daniel, "but he doesn't care.