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The first time Joe Nieuwendyk encountered Gary Roberts on a hockey rink, Roberts was playing for the Wrens and Nieuwendyk was playing for the Larks. Or maybe it was the Owls. Who can remember? It was 35 years ago, in the Squirt League in Whitby, Ontario, and the two Florida Panthers were in kindergarten.

As they skated around the Iroquois Park Arena, their scrawny bodies swimming in oversized sweaters and pads, they never imagined they would still be playing together at age 40, in the second year of twin $4.5 million contracts.

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