But Daniel and Henrik can go a little further than even the indistinguishable Van Arsdales did and set the standard for athletic doubles, even if they never quite become Forsberg2. "What I like about the twins is that they see all the problems on the ice," says Edmonton Oilers scout Kent Nilsson, a Swede who scored 264 goals in his NHL career. "Good players solve problems. Bad players move the problem a couple of yards and hope a teammate solves it. The twins are problem solvers."
Probably the sweetest solution came last April in the European junior championship. Sweden needed at least a four-goal victory over Russia, or the gold medal would go to archrival Finland. During one shift that already has found its way into Norse legend, the Sedins kept possession against five Russian skaters for almost two minutes. Henrik finished the first period with a goal and an assist and Daniel with two assists, and Sweden was on its way to a 5-1 win and the title. "From the opening face-off they were unstoppable," Edmonton vice president of hockey operations Doug Risebrough says. "They were men against boys." Three months later Daniel and Henrik were men against gods, competing against Forsberg and some Swedish NHL players in a charity game at Kempehallen. Of course, Foppa was on holiday, but scouts agree that Daniel and Henrik outplayed him. When the match is brought up in the coffee shop, the twins simultaneously lower eyes that are a shade of blue rarely seen outside of religious statuary. They say nothing.
"The question isn't, Who's a better player? but, Who's the better player without the other one?" says Don Waddell, general manager of the expansion Atlanta Thrashers, who will begin play next season and are guaranteed one of the first three picks in June. "We have to know which one can stand alone, which is how we've framed it for our scouts. We've checked their birth certificates. We've met with them, researched the family and friends and are turning over every stone so that when draft day comes and it's our pick and we happen to take one of them, it's the right one."
This NHL draft is no Breeders' Cup: The Sedins can't enter as numbers 1 and 1A. Nor is it a buy one, get one free deal. For them to wind up in the same uniform seems highly unlikely. No team has stockpiled first-round picks for 1999, and a draft-day deal in which a team would land a second high pick is wishful thinking. The twins are going their separate ways, unless....
On Sept. 18 the boys' agent, IMG hockey president Mike Barnett, sent the Sedin family a five-page, single-spaced letter outlining options if Daniel and Henrik decide they want to try to stay together. They can enter the draft in 1999 and become unrestricted free agents two years later-provided they move to North America to play junior hockey and don't sign with their NHL club. Their parents, Tommy, a school vice principal and a MoDo player in the '60s, and Tora, a nurse, aren't enthusiastic about the idea. Henrik, Daniel and their two older brothers, Stefan and Peter, are the sixth generation of Tora's family to live in the same sprawling house built of blond spruce and decorated in good taste on the outskirts of Örnsköldsvik, and no one is in a hurry to leave. The twins plan to play at least another year for MoDo and finish high school.
The other option would be for one brother to stay out of next year's draft-officially the draft is for 19-year-olds, although 18-year-olds can opt in—and hope the team that picks, say, Daniel in 1999 can get Henrik in 2000, a long shot at best and a gambit with limited appeal. Daniel and Henrik could go as high as Nos. 1 and 3, which would be reminiscent of the drafting of Ron and Rich Sutter, who were taken fourth by the Philadelphia Flyers and 10th by the Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively, in '82.
Something inside Daniel and Henrik whispers that it would be swell to establish separate identities, as the Van Arsdales did, but they are wary of ruining a good thing. "Of course, we can't be sure of being together in the NHL, but it would be nice," Henrik says. "We play well together. We know where each other will be on the ice. It's like we have one brain."
This is no eerie twin thing, no genetic doppelgänging up on opposing defensemen. They are different off the ice—Henrik is calmer, Daniel is more of an extrovert, and neither considers the other his best friend—and they doubt biology has much to do with their being mirror images on it. With the exception of last season the twins have been linemates since Daniel shifted from center to wing at 14. Theirs is a partnership of years of practice, not unlike the one Forsberg and Naslund had when they were coming up together.
"Together the twins are 100 percent," says Gradin, a Vancouver scout who was another Örnsköldsvik 200-goal man. "They're good enough to play with anyone, but separately their capacity might decrease by 10 or 15 percent." Another Swedish NHL scout says their chemistry makes each of them 25% better when they play on the same line.
Extrapolating from the scouts' assessments, Daniel and Henrik might be the first players to actually give 125%. As they can tell you over at the magazines drat have centerfolds, Swedish twins are really special.