Hockey's Historic Highlights

Double Trouble

Hockey's Historic Highlights

Glen R. Goodhand

Double Trouble

Posted February 16, 2020

Viewed 1456 times

Henrik and Joel Lundqvist

Joel and Henrik Lundqvist

    I’ll never forget October 14, 1960. Just shortly after midnight my wife poked me and said, “It’s time!” Fortunately, it was only a few blocks to the hospital in Newmarket, Ontario, where we were living at the time. The receptionist called a nurse, who appeared with a wheelchair and whisked Grace down the hall toward the maternity ward. In essence, she said to me, “Don’t call us we’ll call you!” Those were the days, when prospective fathers never got closer to the birthing than the waiting room.

   I simply went home and crawled back into bed. At 4 a.m. the phone rang and Dr. Schofield said: “Mr. Goodhand! You are the father of twins—a boy (4 lbs., 5 oz.) and a girl (4 lbs., 7 oz.)!”

  All I could say was “GOODNESS!”

  You see, it was a total surprise! We had not been warned that it might be the case. When Jeffery entered this world, the doctor told her, “There’s another one in there!” (We named her Linda) They will be 60 years old on their next birthday!

  Frankly, I thought I would die for lack of sleep those first three months. They ate every three hours; took an hour to eat; and didn’t schedule their snacks at the same time. Add to that the fact that their size encouraged colic, and multiple diaper changes.

  But it wasn’t long until that double trouble transformed into delightful cooing and smiling, evolving into a never-ending series of antics which one could think of if the other didn’t.

    One of the most unusual stories was filed in the NHL’s archives during the All Star break in 2016. John Scott, who was at the time skating for the AHL’s St. Johns Icecaps, made his appearance in the midseason classic as a member of the Pacific Division crew. Not only that, but we was elected Captain of the team, and selected as the game’s MVP. That a minor-league puckster should even be in competition in a major-league event was enough to prompt the league to strike a rule preventing it from ever being repeated. And twins were involved in this—indirectly.

   Scott’s very pregnant wife made the trip to the match to support her better half. In fact she got so excited with all the fuss surrounding John that she feared it might bring on labour. But it was seven days later that the family increased by two — girls — the mirror image of one another.

  There have been other NHL’ers who have been doubly blessed in this manner. In 1981, Anders Kallur, while a member of the Islanders, also welcomed twin girls into their home.

  Two decades later, Todd Krygier joined this elite club. With him it was boys. Of added interest, they inherited their father’s genes, and in 2018 they were late round picks in the draft by the Islanders and Florida.

  Mathieu Perreault, currently part of the Winnipeg Jets line-up, broke tradition: he and his wife became proud parents of a boy and a girl.

   But shinny duets have been even more directly connected to the world’s premier circuit. There have been no less than six sets of twins who have played in the loop.

   Not surprisingly, with the number of contributions to NHL rosters, the Sutters were the first siblings of this kind to enter the picture. On December 2, 1963, Ron and Rich burst onto their busy family scene, already a training ground for pay-for-play skaters, with four older brothers destined to make it to the Big Time.

  A question that always follows such braces of brothers around relates to their talent levels. Perhaps that was partly answered in their case in 1982 when Ron was drafted fourth by Philadelphia, and Rich was taken tenth by Pittsburgh. But that was a secondary issue with the Viking, Alberta boys. They were partners on the Lethbridge Broncos on the WHL, when they captured the Memorial Cup in 1983. Being teammates in the NHL was their dream.

  Actually it happened twice. Rich was traded to the Flyers in 1984. But that togetherness lasted only three campaigns—Rich was on the move again—to Vancouver. He describes their being separated as “gut-wrenching experience!” They had always been extremely close — “as close a two people can be”, as he put it. Their father’s reaction reminds of ”Pop” Bentley’s upset when Max was traded to the Leafs. Louis told Manager Bobby Clarke, in no uncertain terms: “They should be together!”

  But business is thicker than blood.

  They were finally reunited for the 1991-92 season when Ron joined his womb-mate in St. Louis. “Happy days are here again”, was their theme song. But that too was short-lived. Two years later they were separated once more.

  Twins know a union that is different than any other family relationship. It is manifest in several different ways — one of them is demonstrated with Ron’s and Rich’s bond. Tucked into a sidebar of the December 24, 1993 issue of the Hockey News is this revelation:

  “Like many twins, the Sutters feel they share a sixth sense about each other, particularly when something is wrong. And on the morning of November 17 Rich felt something was amiss with his brother 2,000 miles away. He was watching ESPN…..and it showed Ron getting hit from behind, into the boards in Vancouver. ‘I couldn’t believe it. As soon as I turned on the TV they showed it!’”

   Peter and Patrik Sundstrom were next in line.  At 17 they were a key part of the chemistry of Bjorkloven of the Swedish Elite League. Because of their age they also were part of the country’s contingent in the World Junior Tournament in the early 1980’s. As well, they played at the Senior level at the World Championships.

   Like the Sutters, the big day came when they pulled on identical colours. Patrik had been traded to the Devils in 1987. And, two seasons later, Peter became his teammate — though it was only for 21 games. They were basically quiet and shy by nature. But their mischievous side showed one night when New Jersey were the visitors in Madison Square Garden. They switched sweaters for the match. They fooled the spectators, TV watchers, and the opposition. But the record books couldn’t be fooled. Petr ended up with one less goal in the stats column than he would have otherwise.

    In hockey circles, when the name “Ferraro” crops up, automatically it is paired with “Ray”. The Trail, B.C. native racked up 898 total points during this career with six NHL clubs, including 408 goals.  Twice he tallied 40 markers from his centre-ice corridor.

   But there was a generic combo with the same surname who also enjoyed some time at the top — though in a comparatively limited fashion. Peter and Chris were born two minutes apart on January 24, 1973. They were one of two sets of twins who were drafted the same year by the same team, the New York Rangers. Peter was picked in the first round in 1992, while Chris wasn’t chosen until the fourth. Their first campaign on Broadway was 1995-96 — but they skated for only two and five contests respectively.

  “We’ve been together our whole careers”, Peter offered. It began with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL; continued in the World Junior tournament; the University of Maine; the IHL Atlanta Knights; then with the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL. They were even transferred to the Penguins the same year — 1997-98.

  Chris added this post-script: “People find it hard to believe, but throughout our careers we’ve rarely played on the same line!” (Despite almost 400 games with the same clubs.)

   As has been the case with a number of shinny mercenaries, they were career minor-leaguers.  They did well in the AHL, but fell short in the Big Time. Press reports include: “They are together again as twin terrors……with their scrappy, buzzing pain-in-the-neck style…”

   Larry Pleau, Ranger’s Assistant GM said: “So far it has been difficult to find two players in the AHL who have been much better than the Port Jefferson, N.Y., natives!”

   Perhaps it would have been best to leave the best until last—but we continue in chronological fashion — focusing on the Swedish sensations, the Sedins. It is superfluous to linger on their biographies. Because, as one writer put it: “What can be said that has not already been said?”

   Brian Burke’s deft handling of the draft scenario in 1999 has been more than adequately diagnosed. But since they were chosen first and second, the hockey scene in Vancouver has never been the same. To watch their chemistry on ice has seldom been matched in any era.

  Who was the better of the two? That is difficult to answer objectively, even though there are miles and miles of highlight reels, and line upon line of official league stats as testimonials.  If goals alone were the deciding factor, one would have to say “Daniel”. He potted 393 of them—compared to 240 by Henrik. Assists present a different picture: Henrik clocked 830—Daniel 648. In total points they aligned very closely. The former claims 1041—the latter, 1020. Those who are in-the-know would say that fits perfectly — with Henrik the playmaker, and Daniel the sniper.

  In 2009-10, Henrik captured the league scoring title and the accompanying Art Ross Trophy. His peers voted him winner of the Ted Lindsay Award — “most outstanding player”. The next year the situation was reversed—with Daniel at the top of the scoring race, and the League presenting him with the Hart Trophy.

  Those who know them intimately say they do not look exactly alike. The same obviously applies to the estimate of their talents.

  What may not be as well known is their life and times away from the arena. Vancouver journalist Jackson McDonald declared “…they are better people than they are hockey players!” It is well known in and around the B.C. capital that this shinny duet are more than generous when it comes to charitable acts. In fact it is said they participated in 50 different philanthropic efforts. The most notable was a 1.5 million dollar gift to the Children’s Hospital. As well, they often met and visited with, and talked with, both the kids and their families.

  But as well as being community minded, they were also humble and personable as individuals. The morning after the Sedins’ final match in Canucks’ uniform, CKWX-AM sports director, Ann Schmaltz, was interviewed on Breakfast Television. Having been the twins’ journalistic shadow for many seasons, she was asked about their behind-the-scenes deportment. Allowed in the locker room she was able to give a candid appraisal of their personalities.

  Among other things she shared that Daniel and Henrik led the way in showing her respect as a female reporter. She continued by declaring they were very “even keel” guys — quick with one-liners, and “fun, fun, good people!”  Perhaps surprisingly, knowing pucksters’ reputations, she affirmed that she had never once heard a curse word from either of them.

  If Henrik Lundqvist is the “King”, where does that leave Joel, his younger brother by 40 minutes? If there is such a thing as a male “Prince Consort”, that’s about the extent of it. His relationship with the New York Rangers’ super twine-tender is the biggest reason he is remembered at all in the puck world. Henrik has played almost 900 regular-season matches — Joel only 134.

  Comparisons in talent are made more difficult by the fact that Joel is a forward, and Henrik a goalie. Nevertheless, the former didn’t exactly melt the ice with outstanding performances during his stint with the Dallas Stars. “The King”, on the other hand, was showered with accolades from the moment  he stood between the pipes in his rookie campaign. He has a Vezina Trophy to his credit, and has been voted to All-Star teams twice. He seems to be a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame.

   Their profiles differ greatly. Joel was drafted in the 3rd round by the Texas contingent in 2000; while Henrik wasn’t taken by New York until the seventh cycle.  The former remained with Sweden’s Frölunda Hockey Club for six seasons before being promoted; the latter moved up to the NHL with a flair after five campaigns.

   On the personal level, even though they claim they were “like one person” until they were 20, “doing all the same things, and having the same friends”, their personalities differ widely. In an interview, Joel confessed he was more laid back; while his womb mate was upbeat — always wanting things to happen. One biographer reveals that the older twin not only wantsthem to happen, he goes to great lengths to make them happen. Hockey fans are very familiar with Henrik’s on-edge emotions — his “meltdowns” as he reacts to both opposition players and officials alike.

   There is no fantasy finale with this shinny duet. They do not get to share the same colours on NHL ice. But their 2017 World Championship triumph is made of the same stuff. Joel was captain of his country’s contingent. On the other side of the ocean, part way through the tournament, the Ottawa Senators eliminated the Blueshirts from further Stanley Cup competition. While the “King” was deflated by this defeat, it opened the opportunity for him to become part of Sweden’s drive for the Gold Medal. The siblings were joined at the hip again — the first time they had skated together for 12 years.

  Henrik starred! In a shoot-out in the deciding contest, his team eliminated Canada to take home all the international scene’s marbles. It was an unforgettable victory for the mirror image pair.

   Mr. & Mrs. Doug Russell from Caroline, Alberta, were the last parents to send a double-barrelled force to pro hockey. Their sons, Ryan and Kris were born May 2, 1987, and Kris initially represented the clan in the NHL by joining Columbus for the 2007-08 campaign.

   Strangely enough, even though Caroline boasted only 515 residents, the twins didn’t play on the same teams, even in minor hockey. They faced each other at the Pee Wee level, and by the time they had graduated to Junior, they were still opponents. Kris played defense for the Medicine Hat Tigers, while Ryan was a pivot for the Kootenay Ice in the WHL.

  While they maintain they grew up as the best of friends, and still have the same relationship, there was a time when they forgot about that bond. In a Junior match they clashed at centre ice — and actually dropped the gloves in a serious disagreement. Their parents were not impressed!

  Kris is the superior talent, who, as a current member of the Edmonton Oilers, has 840 NHL games under his belt — Ryan managed but 41 in the Big Time. Most of his career was spent in the minors; and after his stint in the NHL, he was demoted to the AHL, and then signed with a team in Sweden.

  But the most memorable time for them — not surprisingly — was when Ryan became part of the Columbus Blue Jacket line-up at the start of the 2011-12 season. His brother had already been there for four years, but he stayed only 12 more games in Ohio before being to St. Louis. Those were the dozen matches they spent wearing the same colours — becoming the fifth pairing to enjoy those special moments.

   When my son used to play road hockey, he made a habit of shouting “Yea! Almost!” when he came close to scoring. There are four hockey twins who fall into that category—almost being the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth couplets to have their names in NHL records.

  In 1984 the Winnipeg Jets made history when they inked Paul and Perry Pooley to contracts. The former skated for the Manitoba six for only 15 games. Perry never reached the Big Time at all.

  Carey Wilson graduated from Canada’s National squad to the Calgary Flames in 1983. He prevailed in the NHL for ten seasons. Geoff, on the other hand, didn’t get further than being invited to the Penguins’ training camp. When the venture to become a part of the Pittsburgh club failed, he quit to become a chef, but not before playing a handful of games in the Finnish Elite League.

   Pat Jablonski wore the pads for 128 games with five different NHL franchises. His twin, Jeff, clocked 346 contests in the IHL, the ECHL, and the AHL. He then moved his hockey headquarters to Great Britain.

  The John Marino/Paul Marino III story has a bizarre spin to it. Born on May 21, 1997, the family was shocked to discover that Paul’s legs were bowed — to the tune of 120 degrees. Walking, let alone skating, was a tremendous challenge. But, thanks to modern medicine, that spread was reduced to five degrees — and Paul did lace on skates and became a good hockey player. John even held back for a while, staying at a lower level of competition, so that they could play together.

  But eventually reality set in. They both played for Harvard for three seasons, John at the NCAA level and Paul at the ACHA level; and Paul remains there as team captain. John is currently competing with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

   When our Dr. Schofield announced to Grace that “there’s another one in there!”, she responded with “You’re kidding!’

   He answered: “I kid about triplets, but never about twins!”

   Perhaps one day there will be a set of triplets in the world’s premier loop. There seemed to be an inkling that might happen when the Seaburys were teammates at Lowell, and making headlines. But there was even more optimism when Leo, Gerry, and Myles Fitzgerald skated for the Junior Victoria Grizzlies beginning in 2012-13—then graduated to Bemidji State University, which was part of the WHCA, making their mark at that level for four seasons. Gerry did play an exhibition tilt with the Minnesota Wild; Leo made it to the ECHL; Myles ended up in Budapest playing the European game.

  For now the game’s biological combos will have to do!

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