Daniel and Henrik Sedin are convinced the fix is in, and say their big mouths sealed their fate as all-star opponents.
"I think there's something going on," Daniel Sedin said. "I've seen some signs."
Earlier this month, the Vancouver Canucks' twins revealed they have never played against each other in organized team sports, and word spread through National Hockey League all-star ranks. The Sedins have since heard back-channel rumblings that captains Nicklas Lidstrom and Eric Staal have bowed to peer pressure and are conspiring to split them up Friday in the inaugural all-star player fantasy draft.
"There might be people who want to see us play against each other," Henrik Sedin said. "We should've been smarter."
Canucks teammate Ryan Kesler, a fellow all-star and an assistant captain with Team Staal, seems wise to the game. He suggested some "strategy" could be at play as Lidstrom and Staal select 36 players one by one in a televised draft, a new all-star game format where NHL luminaries are subject to the backyard exercise of picking teams.
"I was talking to them yesterday, and I know they expect it," Kesler said. "They're so good together, it's going to be strategy to break them up."
Team Staal will face Team Lidstrom at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday, but there may be more intrigue and tactics in the player draft, particularly as the spotlight shifts to the poor last pick. It could become a who's-better-who's-best verdict on the league's top players, or a test of loyalties and NHL politics, as teams build and as players lobby their captains. TSN will have microphones on select players to capture the deliberations.
Lidstrom does not have a Detroit Red Wings teammate to choose, but has been pressured by his countrymen to pick Swedes.
The Carolina Hurricanes' Staal has to deliberate on brother Marc, a defenceman from the New York Rangers. Unlike the brothers in Vancouver, the Staals can't remember being on the same team.
"We talked about that," Marc Staal said this month. "I don't think I could handle being on his team. He's too mouthy."
For the Sedins, who chafe at playing on different lines, anxieties will run high. The all-star group seems poised to have some fun with them, plus no player wants to gift-wrap the MVP award to a Sedin by allowing him to exploit his brother in a game geared to offence.
"It might be something to look at, seeing how they would do when they're facing each other," Lidstrom said this month.
The Sedins are the quintessential set of identical twins, living in each other's pockets, inseparable to the point of being co-joined. On the ice, their emergence as top-five league scorers is based on their unique chemistry together, they complete one another.
Competing against each other is nothing new for the Sedins, it's just that it has never happened in the sport that became their profession. Daily workouts at their summer homes in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, turn into competitions, and their days of head-butting in individual sports and activities date back to childhood.
For the record, Daniel said he is better at chess and school, then subtly pointed to his brain. He admitted Henrik rules at golf and table tennis. He said they were equals on the tennis court, but only because 2001 back surgery hampered his game. Before that, Daniel was better.
Daniel cannot win the hockey argument because Henrik is the reigning winner of the Hart and Art Ross trophies. The twins have wicked senses of humour with each other, so know that mantelpiece has been mentioned since Henrik joined a list of NHL royalty last June.
He is six minutes older, after all, and entitled to pick on his younger brother. Sunday, he should get another chance.