One is a kid from Ottawa who came up through the Canadian junior ranks. The other is an Austrian who played American college hockey and made Minnesota his adopted home. They were born 8 1/2 months apart in 1983-84 and have been teammates since 2004 in Rochester.
Tonight in First Niagara Center is an intriguing game for the Buffalo Sabres, who host the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time this season. But it's a milestone one for Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek, who will both play the 500th game of their NHL careers.
Roy and Vanek, longtime linemates now playing apart, will become the 25th and 26th players to take the ice 500 times with the Sabres in the franchise's 41 seasons.
"That's interesting that it's the same night for both of us," Roy, 28, said with a laugh after practice Thursday downtown. "Somebody told me, 'Hey, you're getting right up to 500' and I just didn't know it was [tonight].
It was pretty close to being a trio at 500 tonight as captain Jason Pominville will play in his 490th game as a Sabre. He missed nine last year with a concussion and was a healthy scratch early in the 2005-06 season after reporting from Rochester.
Roy and Vanek ended up on the same pace only because Roy missed the final 57 games last season with a torn quad. Roy began his Buffalo career with 49 games in the 2003-04 season, which was Vanek's last at the University of Minnesota. Vanek led the Golden Gophers to the national championship during the NCAA Frozen Four when it was played in then-HSBC Arena in 2003. He debuted in Buffalo in 2005.
"The whole thing is pretty weird," Roy said. "I missed a lot of games last year and I started a year ahead of him. That's cool we both do it the same night."