Saturday, January 29, 2011

Famed Doctors Lidström and Staal Separate Twins after Thirty Years

The Sedins: Daniel (left, or perhaps right) and Henrik (right, maybe. Or not)

On January 28, 2011, in a gripping procedure televised internationally, surgeons Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom separated noted thirty-year-old Swedish twins Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin before a live studio audience.

Not the Sedins.
This separation might be a touch more remarkable and newsworthy if the Sedin twins were actually conjoined twins, and Eric Staal and Nick Lidstrom were real surgeons instead of just captains in charge of picking teams for the 58th National Hockey League All-Star Game. For hockey fans, however, it’s still notable not only because the Sedins have spent almost the entire last sixteen years as linemates (Daniel at left wing, Henrik at center), but also because, in their twenty-two years at various levels of organized hockey, the brothers have not once competed against one another.1

Also not the Sedins.

Drafted second and third overall in 1999 by the Vancouver Canucks, the Sedins were considered early in their careers to be moderate disappointments, given their high draft status and the complex series of hoops through which the Canucks’ general manager, Brian Burke, had to jump to obtain both players. In recent years, however, the Sedins have flourished—Daniel’s five best single-season goal, assist, and point totals have all occurred in the last five seasons, and Henrik has not only reached career-high point totals in three of the past four years but also is the NHL’s reigning scoring leader, having earned112 points (29 goals, 83 assists) in the 2009-2010 season. On top of that, the Vancouver Canucks have won the Northwest Division four of the past six seasons, and as of today, are a runaway favorite to win their third consecutive division title.

Definitely not the Sedins. Well, probably.
Credit for their success is often given to the fact that Henrik and Daniel are twins, and thus presumably possess some sort of mysterious psychic connection that allows them to know what to expect from one another on the ice. That folks in the media choose this angle is perhaps not surprising, and certainly good for a story, but it does tend to unfairly dismiss the positive effect on line chemistry that one gets from having played a thousand games and practiced ten or twenty thousand hours, day in and day out, with the same guy.

Now you’re just being ridiculous. Patty Lane and Cathy Lane were identical cousins, not sisters.

Regardless of whether the Sedins’ undeniable chemistry is the result of years of practice or just magical brain power, though, the whole hockey world is2 speculating wildly—if not particularly seriously—about what will happen when the two brothers hit the ice as opponents for the first time. Will Henrik be teamed with a shooter like Daniel, and will Daniel be given the center that closest resembles his brother’s playmaking style? Will they click with their newfound linemates, or reject them like transplanted organs? Will they wander helplessly around the ice like disoriented homing pigeons, unsure of how to react to a suddenly-unfamiliar world? Will the universe react to this mind-boggling and impossible development by opening a swirling vortex that obliterates the game?3

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, reached by phone only moments before trying on a pair of ice skates for the very first time, admitted that each and all of these scenarios are not only possible but extremely likely.

Given the NHL All-Star Game’s well-earned reputation as a good-natured exhibition game in which the players are more interested in enjoying themselves than injuring each other, we’re hoping the Sedins take this unique opportunity to ramp up the intensity by dropping gloves and beating the ever-loving shit out of one another.

We’re not holding our breath, though. We’ll be happy as long as they choose not to dance.

Yeah, that's them. You’ve watched it—you can't UNwatch it.

1. As far as we know.
2. As far as we know.
3. Here’s hoping the vortex starts with the NFL Pro Bowl first. If ever a game didn’t need to exist, it’s the Pro Bowl.

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