SOCHI – Just to prove they're not always inseparable, Anaheim Ducks Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were about 175 feet apart as the Canadian men's Olympic hockey team wrapped up its practice on Wednesday.
Perry was down in one end, working on his stickhandling, deftly displaying his soft hands as he manoeuvred a puck through a jumble of other pucks. Getzlaf was standing in front of the crease in the other end, showing off his eye-hand coordination as he deflected in shots from the point.
Soon afterwards, however, the two of them walked back together to the Athletes Village and chatted about Canada's Olympic tournament opener against Norway on Thursday (Noon, ET). Getzlaf and Perry were side by side. Now that's a scene familiar to their Ducks teammates. That's why they're called the twins in Anaheim.
"We just hit it off early in our careers," Perry said, in explaining why Getzlaf to Perry has become a common refrain for NHL play-by-play men since they busted on the scene together back in October 2005.
"We've become close off the ice and I think that's why we've been so good for each other on the ice. He's the guy who makes plays and carries the puck. I'm more of an up-and-down player who goes to the net. Someone has to go to the net."
That combination has produced a Stanley Cup championship in 2006-07, an Olympic gold in Vancouver four years ago, Rocket Richard Trophy and Hart Trophy for Perry in 2010-11, and who knows what will happen in Sochi.
On the road, there aren't many times Getzlaf and Perry are apart. They sit together on buses and planes, at team dinners and beside each other in the Ducks' dressing room.
They get along like brothers and that means they occasionally get sick of each other, too.
"That's why we go our separate ways at home and don't see much of each other," Perry said with a chuckle. "He has a family. So we know this a good time to give each other space."
Getzlaf was born in Regina on May 10, 1985, and six days later Perry arrived into the world in Peterborough, Ont.
Neither recalls the first time they met each other, but it was back in 2002 at the Canadian under-18 summer camp. Perry made the team, scored five times in five games and helped Canada win the old Eight Nations Cup. Getzlaf was left at home.
The following spring, it was Getzlaf who played for Canada and won gold at the under-18 world championship while Perry was busy with the London Knights' playoff drive. But they would meet again at the 2003 NHL entry draft in Nashville. The Ducks selected Getzlaf 19th, and then snatched Perry with the 28th overall selection.
"That's the first time I remember meeting [Perry]," Getzlaf recalled. "We met later that evening. But we didn't talk that much."
Friendship takes off
The talk picked up after that. They went to the Ducks training camp in 2003, the Canadian world junior summer camp in Calgary in 2004. They both made that team, but they played on different lines. Perry was with Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron. Getzlaf played between Andrew Ladd and Jeff Carter.
"I'd say that was when we really got to know each other and the friendship started to take off," Perry said. "We were both Anaheim draft picks and we started to hang out more with each other."
A few months after Getzlaf and Perry celebrated world junior gold together, Perry went on to win the Memorial Cup in London and Getzlaf would get an early start on his pro career with a 10-game stint in the AHL Calder Cup playoffs with the Ducks farm club in Cincinnati.
It was at the Ducks' training camp in 2005 that Getzlaf and Perry immediately were paired together and have had Frick and Frack relationship ever since.
Expectations high in Sochi
The expectations are high for Getzlaf and Perry in Sochi and their new linemate, Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks have been one of the best clubs through 60 games because of the twins' play.
With 29 goals and 67 points in 56 games, Getzlaf hit the Olympic break second in the Art Ross Trophy scoring race, 11 points behind Sidney Crosby. Perry is third in the league in goals scored with 30.
"We're having a good season and obviously it would be nice to continue that over here," Perry said.