During the 2000 NHL Draft, the Dallas Stars selected talented Swedish forward Joel Lundqvist with the 68th pick. Four rounds and 137 spots later, the New York Rangers selected Joel’s identical twin Henrik Lundqvist. Henrik, who’s 40 minutes older than Joel, was the 22nd goalie taken overall.
17 years later, the brothers, after taking vastly different paths in their hockey careers, were reunited in Cologne, Germany, celebrating their first championship as teammates on the same pro team. Laughing and smiling as gold medals hung from their necks, Henrik and Joel each held up one rung of the 2017 IIHF World Championship trophy, posing together for a throng of hockey media.
It was a defining moment for their family. And it was the most historic feat by two hockey-playing brothers since Scott and Rob Niedermayer won a Stanley Cup together with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
“I had tears in my eyes, standing on the ice with my brother,” Henrik said to Aftonbladet after the championship game Sunday. “This is what I dreamed of when I came over here from New York. I’ve dreamed of this since I was a kid.”
Henrik, who was only available because the Rangers lost in the second round to the Ottawa Senators, stopped all four shots in the gold-medal shootout, clinching the championship win over Canada. Joel, Sweden’s captain, scored a goal and tallied an assist in ten tournament games. Joel accepted the trophy on Team Sweden’s behalf.
The winding roads that brought the identical twins to this moment started when they were children in Åre, Jämtland, which is located in central Sweden. There, alpine skiing is the most popular winter sport, but Henrik and Joel opted to play ice hockey instead. The two brothers’ interest skyrocketed while watching Frölunda HC, a top tier Swedish Elite League team based in Gothenburg.
In 1990, when Henrik and Joel first joined an organized team, their coach asked if anyone would want to be a goaltender. Joel, being an annoying twin, grabbed Henrik’s arm, raised it up, and said that his brother would like to. The practical joke would end up being a pivotal moment in Henrik’s career.
The older twin fell in love with the position. Several years later, opportunity knocked.
In 1993, the family moved to Båstad, Skåne, in southern Sweden to support their older sister Gabriella’s tennis career. Henrik and Joel then joined the local hockey team Rögle BK. Five years later, they were heavily scouted by their favorite organization growing up, Frölunda HC.
Frölunda’s junior team manager and under-16 coach Janne Karlsson contacted twin’s father, who told Henrik and Joel about Frölunda’s interest in them. After being selected in the NHL Draft, the twins officially debuted for their favorite childhood team during the 2000-01 season. The brothers played in over 100 SEL games together, becoming star players for Frölunda HC in the process. Then their paths diverged when the NHL came calling.
In 2005, Henrik made his debut for the Rangers. While never winning a Stanley Cup, Henrik is known as one of the worlds’ best goaltenders, being named the Vezina Trophy winner in 2012. Henrik has reached the Stanley Cup Final once, losing in five games to the Los Angeles Kings during the 2014-15 season.
Joel made his NHL debut a year after Henrik during the 2006-07 season. Joel spent half of the year in AHL Iowa (38 points in 40 games) and the other half with the Dallas Stars (6 points in 36 games).
The two brothers made history on December 14, 2006, during a game in Dallas. That night, Henrik and Joel became only the third set of twins to play against each other in an NHL game.
Joel remained in the NHL for only three seasons before, unlike his superstar brother, washing out and returning to Sweden. Joel was welcomed back by Frölunda HC and has had a very successful career in the SEL and SHL since then. Joel, serving as Frölunda’s captain, has led the team to an SHL championship in 2016 (Le Mat Trophy) and back-to-back CHL tournament victories in 2016 and 2017. Joel was also named the CHL tournament MVP in 2017.
Aside from their personal achievements, the twin brothers have not played together since Henrik left for the Rangers. The 2017 World Championship was the first time Henrik and Joel played together at a senior-level Worlds tournament during their long careers in hockey.
Photo via @aj_ranger
“I haven’t played with him for 12 years,” Henrik said to NHL.com’s Matt Calamia before the tournament. “Also the fact that we’re not part of the Olympics (next year). I see this as an opportunity to play for my country one more time and with my brother. I’m going to go there and try and finish really strong this season and I’m going to reflect.”
While Joel lifted the World Championship trophy Sunday for the third time in his career, it was extra special, he admitted, to do it side-by-side with his twin.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Joel said to Aftonbladet. “It’s really crazy. A boy from Järpen. It’s hard to grasp.”
Back in NYC with new memories and a Gold medal! To stand next to my brother on the ice with the trophy was one of my proudest moments, it really brought me back 25 years.. all those hours we spend together on the driveway pretending to win that gold medal for our country. #worldchamps
A post shared by Henrik Lundqvist (@hank30nyr) on
Additional reporting by Ian Oland. Translations by Magnus Cadelin
Headline photo: Aftonbladet
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.