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Mirror, Mirror
Michael Farber
December 21, 1998
NHL teams think Sweden's Henrik (left) and Daniel Sedin are the fairest of prospects but reflect, Which twin will do hitter without the other?
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December 21, 1998

Mirror, Mirror

NHL teams think Sweden's Henrik (left) and Daniel Sedin are the fairest of prospects but reflect, Which twin will do hitter without the other?

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Rich Sutter

1982-83 to 1994-95





Ron Sutter*

1982-83 to present





Patrik Sundstrom

1982-83 to 1991-92





Peter Sundstrom

1983-84 to 1989-90





Chris Ferraro

1995-96 to 1997-98





Peter Ferraro*

1995-96 to present





*Through Sunday's games.

They don't see it. Honestly. Henrik and Daniel Sedin know they look like brothers, obviously, but like identical twins? Can't people tell Henrik is an inch taller and five pounds heavier? That Daniel's mouth is tighter? That Henrik's jaw is more pronounced? Then there's that clearly distinguishing mark: Henrik's right front tooth, which was chipped a few weeks ago by a high stick during a Swedish Elite League game.

The Sedin (pronounced se-DEEN) twins—possibly the best and, at 18, certainly the youngest players in the league—play for MoDo, whose pulp and paper mills provide a living for most of the 58,000 people living in and around Örnsköldsvik and whose hockey team provides for the citizens' spiritual health. Örnsköldsvik is to hockey what San Pedro de Macorís is to baseball. This town on the Gulf of Bothnia, almost equidistant between Stockholm and the Arctic Circle, has produced or nurtured more, and better, NHL players per capita than any other city outside North America: Anders Hedberg, Thomas Gradin, Tommy Jonsson, Lars Molin and Bo Berglund of previous generations and a current group that includes the Vancouver Canucks' Markus Naslund, the New York Rangers' Nicklas Sundstrom, the Detroit Red Wings' Anders Ericksson, the Boston Bruins' Mattias Timander and the most complete player in the NHL, Colorado Avalanche center Peter Forsberg, who is known here as Foppa.

"Hockey is a lifestyle there, part of the fabric of the community," says Hedberg, the Toronto Maple Leafs' assistant general manager who was Örnsköldsvik's first export to North America in 1974, a linemate of Bobby Hull's with the WHA's Winnipeg Jets and later a Rangers star. "You come from there, you know you have to train hard, you know you have to live a healthy lifestyle, because your neighbors are all watching. Your hockey career isn't your own but a social responsibility, something you owe the community. The Sedins will always have that in their luggage."

Thus, when they arrive in Winnipeg for the World Junior Hockey Championship, which starts on Dec. 26, Daniel and Henrik—who both figure to be among the top five selections in the NHL draft next June—won't be traveling light.

Henrik and Daniel are sitting in a coffee shop a block from their school in Örnsköldsvik, where in late November the sky turns from black to a soft gray at 9 a.m., then recedes to black six hours later. MoDo is a night job, paying about $750 a month and an additional $180 a game. By day the Sedins study at Nolaskolan Gymnasium, equivalent to an American high school, where teachers still call Daniel "Henrik" and Henrik "Daniel" or sometimes tvilling—twin. (The Sedins accept misidentification as a matter of course, although every once in a while it does get their zygotes.) They have just come from tackling integers in calculus class, and though soon the only integers they will ever have to worry about will be the ones in their NHL contracts, they treat school with a proper, endearing earnestness. Each orders a fruit soda and a pastry. Though Henrik does most of the talking, it's not because his command of English is necessarily better than his brother's; both the boys speak it relatively well. It's because Daniel defers to his older sibling (Henrik was born six minutes earlier), often glancing at him before answering questions.

"Maybe we are better players than Forsberg when he was our age," Daniel says, "but look what happened when he got older."

"Anyone who compares us to Forsberg," Henrik interrupts. "Ridiculous."

Too late. Daniel and Henrik got their visas to Foppaland stamped last year after they made the MoDo senior team at 17, the same age as the precocious Forsberg had. (A handful of the Swedish League players are NHL-caliber, but most are minor league level.) Daniel was distinctly the better Sedin last season, a scorer who could play either wing and had more speed than his brother. Henrik, a center and, like his brother, a left-handed shot, didn't play as much. Now that Henrik is taking regular shifts this season with Daniel on the top line on Sweden's top team, Daniel's edge over his brother is about a quarter of an inch—if the space between MoDo coach Per Bäckman's thumb and forefinger can be accurately gauged.

Henrik, who has seven goals and 13 assists in 28 games through Sunday, plays defense more responsibly. Daniel, with 10 goals and 13 assists, has a harder shot and a little more flair. They both have a knack for coming out of a scrum along the boards with the puck, and while they're physically imposing—Henrik is 6'2", 210 pounds—unlike Forsberg, they're not especially physical. They are, however, conspicuously smart. After Daniel scored a goal and Henrik had an assist last month in a 4-2 victory against Stockholm's Djurgårdens IF at Kempehallen, a low-slung barn outside Örnsköldsvik that seats 2,500 and stands 4,000 more, linemate Anders Söderberg said, "I played with Foppa during the [1994-95 NHL] lockout. The only difference is there was one of him and two of them."

There have been Twin Towers (Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson, among others), twin killings (6-4-3; Romulus offing Remus), Twin Peaks, the Twins (Gemini or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, depending on whether you like your stars in the heavens or on TV) and Twin Cities. There are identical twins who played on the same page, like Rich and Ron Sutter, the youngest of the six Sutter brothers who carved out decent careers as hockey plumbers, and those who are simply on the same page of the Baseball Encyclopedia, like the slugging Jose Canseco and his footnote brother, Ozzie. There have been Twin Spires (Churchill Downs) and inspired twins, like Dick and Tom Van Arsdale, NBA swingmen who each averaged at least 19.2 points for a four-season stretch that began in 1968-69.

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