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Larry Wigge | columnist
Jan 11, 2007, 12:00 PM EST

We have watched them turn our heads with their slick passing and uncanny ability to know where one another is since twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin were picked second and third overall in the 1999 Entry Draft. But while they were once YoungStars, they are something much, much more now.

Cycling, weaving in and out of traffic, in constant motion, always looking for the right moment, then suddenly there’s an open man and a goal-scoring opportunity for the Vancouver Canucks.

"We’ve been lucky enough to see them grow from great prospects into amazing stars in this league," Canucks captain Markus Naslund said earlier this season. "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."

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.

"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. "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."

Now, seven-plus years later, we see the magic as an entry that may have never appeared for them if they were apart.

Almost identical. Think they're hard to tell apart? Their stats are just as tough to separate.

"He’s the playmaker," Daniel says of Henrik.

"And he’ll shoot before he’ll pass," Henrik said of Daniel.

But coming into this season, their sixth in the NHL, Daniel had 222 points and Henrik 221.

These twins really are so much alike that one completes the other's sentence.

You really couldn't tell them apart when the Canucks picked Daniel No. 2 and Henrik No. 3 in the 1999 draft -- following Atlanta's selection of Patrik Stefan -- except that Henrik had chipped a tooth a couple weeks earlier and hadn't had time to get the proper dental work done. That flaw was fixed a while back. And now ...

"We’re look-a-likes again," Henrik laughed.

The Sedins have seen the movie The Parent Trap in which twins were separated at birth, one living with the father, the other with their mother. They switch parents for a while to see how their life would be in the other’s shoes. But not the Sedins.

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, Henrik scored a goal and was injured, so I went out right after the game and did the interview for him," Daniel laughed. "That was here in Vancouver."

Sneaky, eh?

"Teammates can tell us apart after a while," Henrik said. "But most of the coaches don’t have a clue."

"Yeah, they’ll come up to me and say I have to check a player quicker deep in our zone defensively ... and I’ll have to go to Hank and tell him what he did wrong," Daniel said.

Not that there’s much wrong with the way either Henrik or Daniel Sedin have played these days, while leading the Canucks in scoring with Henrik having five goals and 37 assists through the first-half of the season with Daniel adding 16 goals and 24 assists -- more than 10 points better than Naslund, who was next in Vancouver scoring statistics.

In reality, Henrik was born six hours before Daniel. And Daniel and his wife, Marinette, have a daughter named Ronja. Henrik got married to Johanna last summer and their expecting their first child in March. Daniel is better at poker and water sports. Henrik is better at soccer and golf. When they play tennis, it’s like hockey, always together.

"We have two older brothers," Henrik says. "It was always us vs. them. And we’d win."

The Sedins have been playing hockey together since they were 9 or 10.

"Sixteen years," said Henrik.

While they wouldn’t disagree that they are so alike they often finish one another’s sentences, they disagreed that there was such a bond in the womb that they can feel when something is wrong with the other.

"Never," said Daniel.

"Not true," said Henrik at just about the same moment.

Henrik is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and responds to the physical play a little better than Daniel, who is 6-1, 185 pounds.

The Sedins say they learned a lot about competing from Anson Carter, who had a career-high 33 goals last season while playing on a line with Henrik and Daniel.

"He tried to get us to like hip-hop," laughed Henrik.

"And he tried to get us to change our hairstyle," said Daniel.

Dreadlocks? "Yeah," said Henrik, shaking his crew-cut head.

This season, the Sedins started out with Naslund, then went with Taylor Pyatt, then back to Naslund.

"He’s such a gifted scorer and playmaker," Henrik said.

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 in Sweden.

"Our dream growing up was to play for MoDo (in the Swedish Elite League), just like Markus and Peter did," said Daniel.

"And when they both went to the NHL, then we wanted to come here, too," said Henrik.

"We saw the difference in our strength vs. theirs right away," says Daniel.

"It's clearly a game of men over here," Henrik says.

"When we first got here, we got physically abused on a lot of nights," Daniel recalls.

The past couple summers, the Sedins have had fun trying to become harder to knock off the puck. They do it while rollerblading ... 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. 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.

I don’t think any of us would want to know what would have happened if Burke had failed to make all of the moves necessary to get Henrik and Daniel together in Vancouver.

"We didn't expect to be drafted by the same team," Daniel said in retrospect.

"We didn't hear anything until about five minutes before the draft started, when (Vancouver scout) Thomas Gradin came up to us and said the Canucks had done the move," said Henrik. "We were shocked and relieved."

You knew the Sedins and Canucks were inseparable when the team traded top line tough guy Todd Bertuzzi and let All-Star defenseman Ed Jovanovski and Carter go to make sure they would have enough in the budget to re-sign Henrik and Daniel to identical three-year, $10.725 million contracts.

With the Canucks struggling to get offense, more than one skeptic might suggest to play the Sedins on different lines.

"You absolutely could play them apart because they're so individually talented," said veteran winger Trevor Linden, "but they're so good with one another, knowing where they're going to be on the ice. I can't imagine how it would benefit your team doing that."

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