Breaking News: Sedins sign four-year contract extensions with different hands

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.

17 comments

  1. Nee
    November 1, 2013

    I’m not entirely capable of being reasonable about this, because Henrik has been my favourite athlete for years. But I was so happy to hear this news. These are very talented, consistent players, good leaders and team mates, and contributing members of the community in Vancouver. And the deals are reasonable.

    Great day for the Canucks today! Will be nice to see those 2 jerseys up in the arena rafters some day. : )

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  2. Brent
    November 1, 2013

    Great news.

    Always thought Daniel was the evil twin! Left handed, hand of the devil, sinister etc.

    Good work of deleting CAMBO so quickly.

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  3. madwag
    November 1, 2013

    “shoot shoot” shoot be “should shoot”? shoot!

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    • Tristan
      November 1, 2013

      Sadly, since it’s a typo and these men are hawks, it will soon be corrected, but I’m going to miss “what way a person shoot shoot in hockey” as a phrase, and I’m going to try to use it more in conversation.

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  4. Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)
    November 1, 2013

    It was right in front of us all the time: they’re not twins, Daniel is the Mirror Universe version of Henrik.

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    Rating: +35 (from 35 votes)
    • Frank N.
      November 1, 2013

      Daniel is Bizarro Henrik!

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  5. mb13
    November 1, 2013

    Canucks should consider themselves extremely lucky in getting these guys for so cheap.

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    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  6. Lexie
    November 1, 2013

    Another fun Sedin fact: Daniel’s left foot is smaller than Henrik’s (by about half a shoe size)

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    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
  7. Chris the Curmudgeon
    November 1, 2013

    Apparently, the incidence of left-handedness is actually only partially due to genetic factors, and is also sensitive to environmental influence. For instance, as mentioned in that link two left-handed parents are still more likely to give birth to a right-handed child than a left-handed one, hence heredity of two recessive alleles of a single gene cannot entirely explain it. And while they show that carrying the recessive gene leads to a higher incidence of lefthandedness, it is still not an absolute determinant, suggesting that other factors must be involved. Henrik and Daniel stopped being truly 100% identical right after the fertilized egg spontaneously split into two, after which their rapidly splitting cells began to randomly accumulate different copy-error mutations and epigenetic marks, and they were also differently positioned in Mrs. Sedin’s womb, so that may also have an effect. So while it’s an interesting observation, in a sense maybe it’s not so surprising that they are opposite handed.

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  8. dontpassjustshoot
    November 1, 2013

    It was one of the first things I noticed about them looking at their stats sheets as a new fan, because it was the way I first found out that players don’t necessarily shoot with the dominant hand.

    I assumed they are mirror twins (identical twins that have split unusually late, at 9-12 days, just missing the boat on having a cool conjoined buddy forever.) Look it up; it’s interesting. They tend to be more identical (?) than regular identical twins; that is, the late split means there are fewer chances for differences. Think about most identical twins you’ve met; they’re kind of identical, but not THAT identical. You can tell them apart right away after you’ve known them for a bit. But those guys? Pretty identical.

    So the thing is, mirror twins are often mirror-image-like identical, not my-right-is-like your-right identical. For example, they will both have a very similar birthmark, but it is on the left side for one and the right for the other. Or the hair whorls in opposite directions.

    We may never know about the hair whorls, as Sedin hair is far too rigorously disciplined to whorl. It gets buzzed and then goes for a long run, fighting the other twin and *his* hair to the bitter end.

    It’s common for mirror twins to have opposite handedness. Even the fingerprints may swirl consistently in opposite directions. In extreme cases, one will have the internal organs on the wrong side.

    Bit of a science lesson. But considering how even people who’ve known the Sedins for years sometimes have to look closely (or guess) to tell them apart, and also the telepathic psychic Sedinery, it is clearly a case for science awesomeness and computer graphics. (Sorry, I don’t have any computer graphics.)

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    • Paul
      November 2, 2013

      Thank you for that don’tpass. Very interesting.

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  9. akidd
    November 1, 2013

    no brainer there. i’m sure glad the negotiations didn’t go on any longer than they did. once again the sedins leave a ton of money on the table. if not for the last cba it could’ve been even more. best sports role models a city could ask for. i mean, how is it possible for guys to be interviewed at least 200 times a year for many years and 1) never say anything bad about anybody. 2) never take any credit themselves? pretty damn amazing! there should be an ironman for good behaviour. henrik would win that too(sorry daniel, you blew it with that 10 min misconduct the other night…tsk, tsk//a sinister left-handed glint gleams from daniel’s eye.)

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    • chicken hawk
      November 1, 2013

      Dear Pass It To Bulis hosts,
      Censor please these puerile posts!

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      • chicken hawk
        November 2, 2013

        meaning those from cambo which do eventually get edited, unfortunately often not before i encounter them. cheers.

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  10. sox/canucks fan
    November 1, 2013

    Another smart move by Gillis. The Sedins will be productive players for the duration, excellent role models and teachers, and help to establish the Canucks as a franchise like the Red Wings – successful, long lasting, a culture.

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  11. Sean
    November 2, 2013

    I always heard that the trade-off between the dominant hand being on the top of the stick vs. bottom was that top = more fine motor control and bottom = more power on shooting (and passing).

    So it might explain how Daniel got to be the Score-y Sedin in the first place…

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  12. shoes
    November 2, 2013

    Great signing…..I was a bit worried, that it would not get done and believe you me, Burke in Calgary would have offered them 9 million to head over there at year end and that would have been bad for everybodies mental health. Sedins are the true class of the NHL and embody a human being that can appeal to people outside the usual hockey fan. Speaking of course of their community work and generous nature and their signing for less than they could get elsewhere. Great guys, great signing, all good.

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