It came as no surprise that when the Sedins signed contract extensions with the Vancouver Canucks on Friday, the contracts were identical. The Sedins are, after all, identical twins with near-identical point totals and have always signed identical contracts. The only real difference between the two has always been Henrik’s commitment to the assist and Daniel’s grudging acceptance of being the goalscoring twin.
But when the Canucks released a video of the Sedins putting pen to paper, there was something a little odd about how they did so.
That’s right: Daniel Sedin is left-handed and Henrik Sedin is right-handed. Whaaaaaat?!
If that’s something we knew already, I had completely forgotten. This is mind-blowing to me: both Sedins shoot left-handed and they’re identical twins, so there’s no reason to believe their dominant hands are different. But they are. What in the heck.
Turns out this isn’t actually all that rare. 18% of identical twins have one twin who is right-handed and one twin who is left-handed. Despite that, there’s evidence that handedness is linked to genetics rather than being a learned behaviour, which is really weird. What hand you shoot with in hockey, however, is clearly a learned behaviour.
There are a couple different theories on what way a person shoot shoot in hockey, with the most popular being that the dominant hand should go on the top of the stick, as it is the anchor that provides fine control of the stick. That is why there are far more left-shooting players in the NHL: of the 692 players to play at least one game so far this season, 430 of them shoot left-handed. That’s 62% of all players in the NHL.
Of course, since about 90% of the world’s population is right-handed, it’s clear that some right-handed people also shoot right-handed. It may be partly becuse of what sports a person grows up playing: I ended up shooting right-handed mainly because I played baseball first and that’s the way I held a baseball bat. It just felt natural.
If having the dominant hand on top helps with fine control of the puck when puckhandling and shooting, it hasn’t seemed to affect Daniel too badly, as he’s certainly kept pace with his brother throughout their lives and is one of the best players in the NHL.
That brings us back around to their contract extensions. Both Sedins signed four-year deals worth $28 million, for an average of $7 million per year. That’s a raise of $900,000 over their previous contracts, which seems fair considering their previous contracts definitely had a hometown discount.
Both Sedins are Art Ross winners, with Henrik winning the Hart and Daniel the Ted Lindsay. Winning those types of awards tends to raise a player’s asking price in contract negotiations, particularly in free agency, which is why it’s a good thing the Canucks didn’t let them get to free agency.
$7 million puts the Sedins into some heady company, but their point production also puts them in heady company. Other players making around the same amount of money include Steven Stamkos, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, Zach Parise, Alexander Semin, and Jason Spezza.
For anyone concerned about paying that much money to two players for four years, it’s not at all uncommon across the NHL to spend big money on two top forwards. The Ducks are spending a combined $16.875 million on Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry until 2021. The Penguins have $17.4 million invested in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. The Wild are spending approximately $14.3 million on Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, with $7.5 million on Dany Heatley still on the books this season. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau take up $13.8 million of the Sharks cap hit this year, though they are pending free agents.
There are more examples from across the league, from the Hurricanes spending $15.25 million on Eric Staal and Alexander Semin, the Capitals spending $16.2 million on Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, and the Rangers spending $14.5 million on Rick Nash and Brad Richards.
When looked at with that in mind, $14 million on Daniel and Henrik doesn’t just seem reasonable, it seems like a steal. The Sedins are certainly more reliable than Nash and Richards, have put up far more points than Parise and Koivu, and are more consistent that Staal and Semin. Considering the salary cap is going to continue to rise over the next several seasons, $7 million per year is fair for both sides.
The big question is how long they’ll be able to continue producing at this level. The four-year extension will take them to the age of 37 and, while their game isn’t purely based on their physical attributes but more on their mental ones, the Sedins do take a beating each season from opposing defencemen each season. Eventually, they will wear down. But, considering the Sedins could have asked for longer extensions, four years isn’t too bad.
What this means for the Sedins is that they get to stay in Vancouver. The twins have spent their entire careers here, have gotten married and raised their kids here, and have very strong ties to the community. It should be a priority for the Canucks to ensure that the Sedins retire as Canucks. This is a good start.