Before coming to Atlanta for the All-Star Game this weekend, the identity of the enormously creative and productive Sedins with the Canucks was often muddled -- even by people the twins see in their own dressing room every day.
"I told you a couple of weeks ago that I’d be in Atlanta for the All-Star Game," Sedin said Saturday morning after being named to the Game without his identical brother. "I told you I was proud that finally I was first at something."
"Yeah, Daniel was drafted first (second overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft to Henrik’s third), he got married first and he and his wife had a baby first," Henrik said of the personal highlights of Vancouver’s invigorating twins, who orchestrate the day-in, day-out offense of the Canucks with their dazzling cycling -- weaving in and out of traffic, in constant motion, always looking for the right moment, when suddenly there’s an open man and a goal-scoring opportunity.
The questions for Henrik were wide-ranging as we finally got to know a little more about these remarkable twins -- minus one -- who were born in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, on Sept. 26, 1980.
In reality, Henrik was born six minutes before Daniel.
"Yeah, that’s another thing I was first at ... but just barely," Henrik laughed. "I was born first and, though he might disagree, I’m more organized." SIBLING RIVALRY
Daniel and his wife, Marinette, have a daughter named Ronja. Henrik and his wife, Johanna, have a son named Valter (Swedish spelling for Walter).
"Daniel is better at poker and water sports," Henrik said, ticking off differences between the twins. "But I’m better at soccer and golf. I haven’t lost to him in golf yet (Henrik said he’s a 13 handicap)."
When they play tennis, it’s like hockey, always together. Henrik and Daniel have been playing hockey together, same line almost always through the years, since they were 9.
"Nearly 18 years," Henrik said proudly.
The twins complement one another so well that they came into this season with nearly identical point totals -- Daniel had 306 points and Henrik 302, even though Henrik had played 482 games with the Canucks to 478 for Daniel. This season, Henrik has nine goals and 42 assists and is a plus-17, while Daniel has 22 goals and 26 assists and is plus-12.
Obviously, Henrik is the passer and Daniel the shooter. SWITCHING OFF
Have they ever swapped girlfriends? "Never," said Henrik.
Have they ever swapped jerseys? "No," said Henrik. "But once in Sweden I got thrown out of the faceoff circle, skated over to the boards and then went back in and took the faceoff ... and didn’t get caught."
That was before Daniel started wearing No. 22 for the Canucks and Henrik put on his No. 33 jersey.
"One night in Vancouver, I scored a goal and was injured, so Daniel went out right after the game and did the interview for me," Henrik laughed.
How do the Sedins’ parents Tommy and Tora tell the twins apart?
"I don’t know, but they’ve never gotten us confused -- not even on the phone," Henrik smiled. MIXED UP
Reporters may have trouble, but Henrik swears teammates don’t have the same difficulty identifying the twins.
"Teammates can tell us apart after a while," Henrik said. "But most of the coaches don’t have a clue. They’ll come up to Daniel and say he has to check a player quicker deep in our zone defensively ... and he’ll have to come over to me and tell me what I did wrong."
Not that there’s much wrong with the way either Henrik or Daniel Sedin
have played for the last seven seasons in Vancouver.
It’s been said that the two are so much alike that they often finish one another’s sentences.
"Well ... it happens once in a while," Henrik winked.
Want more about the fascinating Sedins?
"We have two older brothers," Henrik said of Peter and Stefan. "It was always us vs. them. And we’d win."
It seems like so long ago now, that day in June of 1999, when then Canucks General Manager Brian Burke made deals with Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Chicago to get two of the top three picks in the draft in Boston to have the right to pick both Sedins. PROMISING FUTURE
"What is so attractive about the Sedins is that it seems like they are able to find one another in a scary way," Burke told me back then. "It's sort of like radar. They find each other in some of the most impossible spots on the ice. I said all along, the sum of one Sedin reduces the value. But getting both is like a double whammy for a team. That's why I worked so hard at getting this deal done."
While Daniel and Henrik were once promising young players, they are something much, much more now.
"We’ve been lucky enough to see them grow from great prospects into amazing stars in this league," Canucks captain Markus Naslund told me a few weeks ago. "What they do with the puck is so imaginative and instinctive. It can catch you standing around watching sometimes.
"They can seemingly create a great scoring chance in the blink of an eye."
The Sedins, Naslund and Peter Forsberg and former greats Anders Hedberg and Thomas Gradin all grew up in Ornskoldsvik, a town of about 60,000 people.
"Our dream growing up was to play for MoDo (in the Swedish Elite League), just like Markus and Peter did," Henrik said.
Naslund and Forsberg both went to the NHL ... and the twins followed them here, too -- with a pulse-raising flair and creativity.
Henrik said the twins feel they really came into their own the season after the lockout. The last past couple summers the Sedins have had fun trying to become harder to knock off the puck. They do it while roller-blading ... 60-yard wind sprints while carrying 45-pound weight plates. Uphill. Twice weekly, along with at least two other workout sessions and forms of weight training each day this past summer.
"We also felt we had tried to become North Americanized, dumping the puck in and chasing after it -- and that’s not our game," Henrik added. "We decided we’d do more cycling and quick passing -- things that we were successful at in Sweden."
That kind of tough, imaginative workout shows you how much these red-headed Swedish forwards want clearly are determined to star at the NHL level.
"Every year they come back wanting to do more. They're driven," Canucks General Manager David Nonis told me.
"Yeah," said Henrik. "We like a challenge."
And the challenge for the rest of the NHL is to stop the Sedins -- one or both.
For more features like this and more info about the 2008 All-Star weekend, visit NHL.com/allstar/2008