ALSO ON SLAM!
Tuesday, December 7, 1999
Kariya brothers face each other for first timeVANCOUVER (CP) -- They've battled in table tennis, baseball, cribbage, checkers and in-line skating races on the hill near their North Vancouver home.
But Wednesday night in Anaheim will be the first time Paul and Steve Kariya face off against each other in any hockey game when the Mighty Ducks face the Vancouver Canucks.
"The most difficult thing for me during the game will be not critiquing his play while he's out there," Ducks star Paul said in a conference call Tuesday from Anaheim.
Steve, the Vancouver rookie who is four years younger than Paul, said he doesn't see the game as a chance to measure his talents against his older sibling.
"I've never tried to play like Paul or be like Paul," said Steve, 21, who is tied for fourth among rookie scorers with 16 points, including six goals. "I have to go out there and play my own game and be my own person. I've learned a lot from him and he's been nothing but a help for my career."
Paul, 25, in his sixth NHL season and fourth as the Ducks captain, phones home regularly for updates on his brother.
"I've been extra proud of what he's done," said Paul, who leads Anaheim with 12 goals and is tied with teammate Teemu Selanne in team scoring with 26 points. "It thrills me. It's one of the biggest thrills I've had."
The strong relationship that bonds the brothers is further forged by a burning competitive instinct. The two can make a competition out of anything, be it training, cards or checkers.
"He cheats a lot," Paul said of Steve.
Fights are common.
"It usually ends up in a big neck-grab or a couple of punches to the forearms or something," Steve said.
But don't expect any fisticuffs on the ice.
"The likelihood of Steve and I lining up at centre ice and dropping the gloves is slim," Paul said. "But hopefully we'll bump into each other a few times."
The brothers have followed different paths to the NHL after attending the University of Maine.
Paul, five-foot-11 and 180 pounds, was Anaheim's first choice, fourth overall, in the 1993 draft. He also was a member of the Canadian team that won silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Steve, who is only five-foot-seven and 170 pounds, was overlooked in the draft and was signed as a free agent by the Canucks.
Another Kariya brother, Martin, is currently playing at Maine.
For years, hockey separated the brothers as they played in different leagues across the continent from each other. Now the game has brought them together again.
"Our relationship has grown over the past two or three years," Paul said of Steve. "I moved away from home when I was 15 and didn't get to see a lot of him growing up or playing in minor hockey. We've become closer now that we've been training in the summer time."
But that hasn't stopped the game of sibling rivalry.
"We're going out for dinner tonight," Paul said. "Steve is going to pay."