Nepotism and genetics play a role in hockey similar to the one they have in college admissions. The genes will give a headstart and namesake can create higher interest for scouts and front office brass. I’d like to take a look at the legacy phenomenon for a bit. Let’s start with father-son pairings/groups.
Yeah, I know, happy pose; but let’s be honest: Brett and Bobby Hull do not like each other. Especially the animosity from son Brett directed towards Dad. Bobby was a womanizer and boozehound for most of Brett’s childhood, a significant factor in him eventually playing the role of mostly estranged father. Probably the most significant impact on a public level was Brett’s decision to represent the USA in international play, which was in part to disassociate with his father’s image and name.
Two of the most important figures in American hockey, the father a highly renowned and well-liked Stanley Cup winning coach and the offspring the U.S. ambassador of the game through women’s coaching and noted for being the most talented player on Herb Brooks’ team.
We also have a trio:
Remember when Gordie played alongside Mark and Marty in Hartford? Amazing. If that isn’t a testament to longevity, I don’t know what is.
Now this is a family with hockey in the bloodlines. It began with granpappy Bryan Hextall starting his pro career in 1933, eventually reaching the NHL with the Rangers. On Broadway, Hextall became a legend, a first-team All-Star three consecutive years (including when the Blueshirts won their third Cup in 1940), and collector of 362 points over 449 games played. He was inducted into Toronto in 1969.
Bryan’s sons Bryan Jr. and Dennis were born in 1941 and 1943 respectively. Both swam in the deep end of the gene pool, with Junior having a lengthy career (primarily with the Penguins) as a defensive forward and Dennis becoming one of the most productive offensive talents in Minnesota North Stars history (after spending a few years as a journeyman alternating between the NHL and AHL).
Of course, the member of the family we remember best is Junior’s son Ron. At age 22, he broke into the NHL suddenly in the 1986-87 season as a confident young goaltender (probably the odd one of the family – refer to this and you’ll get it) with a Philadelphia Flyers team still looking for another Bernie Parent or Pelle Lindbergh. He definitely shattered expectations, winning the Conn Smythe trophy that season despite falling to Gretzky and Messier’s Oilers in seven games in the Finals. Watching Ron in net was a passion play, as there were few athletes in any sport in his heyday who were close to being as much of an emotional competitor. Some think that this investment of energy was his downfall as it compromised him and kept him from attaining all-time greatness, but that’s neglecting the hybrid goaltenders he influenced with his style of play, including Martin Brodeur, Marty Turco, and Tim Thomas. He’s really been snubbed by the Hall of Fame, in my opinion.
Oh, and it’s also worth noting Ron’s son Brett is now a prospect of the Coyotes. Which reminds me of another family:
Yes, that’s right – four generations, all of whom have played for the Habs. Howie Morenz was one of the most exciting players of the first half of the 20th century until his death from cardiac arrest little over a month after an in-game leg injury in 1937. He was among the first inductees into the Hall of Fame in 1945. Morenz’s daughter Marlene married slap-shot innovator “Boom-Boom” Geoffrion, establishing the first part of the family connection (and yes, this ceremony took place just hours after Bernard’s passing.) He was inducted into Toronto in ’72, pairing him up with his father-in-law. Bernie and Marlene’s son Dan had a slightly under 200 game career, including a stint with Montreal in 1979-80. The cycle was completed in 2012, when Dan’s son, 2010 Hobey Baker Award winner Blake Geoffrion from the University of Wisconsin (AKA the house that Mark Johnson built) was traded by Nashville to the Canadiens. He wears #57 in honor of his grandfather and great-grandfather. It’s safe to say bleu, blanc, et rouge runs in the bloodlines. His younger brothers also play for the University of Alabama Huntsville, so maybe there’s more to come.
Let’s just take on a couple of others briefly:
Kenneth Raymond and Ken, Jr. are the only father-son pairing to have scored hat tricks for the same team.
Peter and his younger son Paul both have/had prominent player roles in the Nordiques/Avalanche organization, and Paul’s elder brother Yan has played with several NHL clubs including the Blues and Bruins (though currently is in the DEL in Germany). Peter also played for three years with his brothers Marian and Anton.
Speaking of brothers, let’s take a look at first generation sibilings with a name around the league.
We’ll start off with the obvious:
Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane, Rich, and Ron, farmboys from Viking, Alberta, combined for nearly 5000 games in a timespan stretching from 1976-2001. After Darryl’s victory as coach of the Kings in 2012, they also have combined for seven Stanley Cups (Duane having played for all four of the Islanders dynasty teams and Brent for the last two). Despite some of their travels, most of them couldn’t stay away from home for too long, as all of the boys except for Rich have worked or played for Calgary at some point. They also seem to like the Windy City, as all but Brian and Ron have played for the Blackhawks.
Barclay, Bob, and Bill from Kirkland Lake, Ontario all spent the most notable years of their career in St. Louis. The two eldest, Barclay and Bob, had quite a reputation as tough as nails defencemen, and it makes you wonder what impact they would have had on the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals had they not been injured.
Dave and Don from Kitchener, Ontario formed a prime defenceman-forward pair with the Blueshirts from ’78-’84. Dave has enjoyed a broadcasting career since his retirement, currently working as the Rangers’ radio analyst, and Don has worked prominently in club front offices (currently with Phoenix and formerly with the Rangers hated rivals, the Islanders).
Frank and Peter combined for a total of 10 Stanley Cup victories, including two together with the Habs. They also played two years together in Detroit.
OK, let’s not go there.
Pavel, a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner, and Valeri were two of the most exciting players in the NHL in their primes. They spent one season together in Florida in 2001-02.
Despite Jordan being pictured in a Pens jersey here, he has joined captain Eric in Carolina thanks to an off-season trade. Marc is currently an alternate captain with the Rangers and Jared is now with the ‘Canes AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers.
Because it just had to be brought up.
The leaf never falls far from the tree. Of all these pairs/groupings, all of them seem to have shared some common bond, whether it be playing for the same team(s) or with similar styles. It’s all in the family in the world’s greatest game.