ST. PAUL, Minn. — They haven’t moved in together because one finds the other one on the grumpy side, but professionally, they couldn’t be happier to be working together.
Gemel and Givani Smith were both on the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup roster posted Monday morning at XCel Energy Center for the first time since the Wings claimed Gemel off waivers Jan. 19. Teammates were excited, having seen over the past month how close the two are.
“What sticks out right away is the relationship they have, the bond they have as brothers,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “You can tell Gemel has been a big influence and you can tell as well that he’s proud of his younger brother, Givani. It’s really special what they have. They spend a lot of time together.
“I have a brother that played hockey as well, and I can’t imagine playing with him — it’d be a great feeling. I know they’re very proud of each other and excited.”
PLAYOFFS? Wings thinking ‘April in the D’ and Moritz Seider is the difference
Gemel, 27, is more of a playmaker, and was acquired because the Wings need depth at center. Givani, who turns 24 on Feb. 27, was drafted at no. 46 in 2016, and fills a needed role as a physical forechecker who can chip in offensively.
“Both of them are physical, both of them can match other teams’ toughness and intensity,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Gemel is a little more of an energy player, he’s on the puck, he skates a little quicker than Givani. Givani is that big, big body. They’re both good people that bring toughness.”
More:How Gemel Smith found out about joining brother, Givani Smith, with Detroit Red Wings
Givani Smith is in his first full season with the Wings (they had him high enough on their depth chart last summer to protect him in the expansion draft) and Gemel is still acclimating to a new team. That’s where having a veteran forward like Sam Gagner helps.
“Sam has done a lot of good things for us and one of the things he can help his linemates sort through defensive situations,” Blashill said. “He’s a really calm, smart guy. He’s helped Givani lots this year and I know he can help both of them. It gives you some security on that line, with a guy who knows our systems well.”
Shortly after he arrived in Detroit, the brothers said they weren’t going to live together because they’d had enough of sharing living space when they were small, and Gemel would claim the upper bunk bed.
They like being on the ice together — and they walked out of XCel Energy Center together after the morning skate — but it’s nice to go to their own abodes when work ends.
“He’s a little bit different personality than I am,” Gemel Smith said, smiling. “He’s more like — he’s not a mean person, but he’s more like the grumpy kind of guy. We’re just two different people so we give each other space.”
Contact Helene St. James at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.