Burke’s various moves to ensure the second and third picks would set the Canucks off on a path of sustained success thanks in large part to the stars the Sedins would become in Vancouver.
Fast forward two decades and there’s another set of twins from Europe turning heads in the hockey world. The Meier twins are not the Sedins. For one, they’re Swiss, not Swedish. Two, they’re not identical twins like the Sedins.
And, three, both players have a lot of work in front of them to make it to professional hockey, be it the NHL or another league. That said, the twins are doing what they can to get there.
Simon, a 173-cm (5-foot-8), 68-kg (150-pound) centre, and Rafael, a 183-cm (6-foot), 74-kg (163-pound) winger, are leaders on Switzerland at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup under-18 showcase tournament in Red Deer, Canada.
“I would describe myself as a playmaker and I just like to make good passes and help my teammates, find them and, when the opportunity is there, I can score too,” says Simon. “My brother, for me, he plays like a power forward, lots of speed, and he wins the battles.”
Simon and Rafael aren’t playing together primarily during the Hlinka Gretzky Cup but have grown up on the same line. With their under-20 club team, EHC Kloten, Simon and Rafael are often lined up alongside one another. As many witnessed during those glory years with the Sedins, the Meier twins have that knack of knowing where each other is that only twins can have.
“In the game, we don’t think too much, we just play. Most time in the game, we just find each other without thinking too much and that’s very nice,” says Rafael. “I’m like a player who plays both sides (of the ice), bringing a lot of speed to the game. I try to make good pressure on the forecheck and backcheck. My brother is like a playmaker. He makes very good passes and creates scoring chances. We are a good combination together.”
Simon and Rafael got into the sport largely because of older brother Fabian, whom the younger brothers followed to the rink, mini sticks in their hands. Before the age of 3, the twins were on skates and thus began their love of the game.
Although they have different styles on the ice, their games complement one another.
Marcel Jenni, the Swiss head coach, says his team’s lack of depth kind of forced him to split up Simon and Rafael during the tournament (although, the twins did spend some time together on the power play). But he raves about each player’s ability to drive a line.
“They’re twins but totally different players. Simon is a really quick forward, he has really good eyes, he reads the ice well. He can move the puck well. He has great offensive skills and he gets better every day. He’s more of a playmaker centreman.
“Rafael is a really good safety. You can put him in every line. He can make every line better, he can keep the puck, he’s strong. He goes net strong. He’s good in the corners, he can keep the pace, he’s good on penalty kill, he blocks the shots. They’re completely different but really important for the team.”
Following the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, the pair will head back to Switzerland and begin training for the upcoming junior season with EHC Kloten. It’ll be interesting to watch their progress during the season as the 2023 NHL Entry Draft looms closer. Who knows? The Meiers may end up being the next set of twins taken by the same NHL team. Both players state the NHL is the goal and they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to get there.
And you can bet that all of the hard work will be done together.
“I don’t know how it is not to be a twin so for me it’s a little bit normal. We do everything together, we went to school together for 13 years or something, we have the same routines, we just do everything together,” says Simon. “Shooting pucks, or going for a walk, going out to the city, we just do everything together. It’s fun.”