The 25 Most Lopsided Brother Combinations in NHL History
Jared Staal, whose three older brothers are already established NHL players, has yet to see action in The Show through two full professional seasons and counting. There is still ample time for the 22-year-old, but history bears a bevy of cautionary tales about skating siblings whose common bloodlines do not amount to common fulfillment.
There have been some brother combinations so disproportionate that they would be virtually impossible to believe without the documentation. For instance, would you believe that Gordie Howe, who formed a dynamic troika with his two sons in the World Hockey Association, briefly shared an NHL ice surface with his own brother as opponents?
It’s true. The tandem of Gordie and Vic Howe is one of the dozens of cases of one NHLer having either played in at least 700 more NHL games or logged at least 10 times as many appearances as his brother. In at least one other case, a future Hall of Famer had a brother chosen in the NHL draft, only to settle for less than a decade of strict bus-league action.
The starkly contrary NHL resumes of the Howes and 24 other sibling duos or trios are recounted as follows.
Mike and Dave Allison
Dave Allison spent a decade journeying―or, for those first five, “voyaging” with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs―through the Triple-A ranks. His NHL break lasted all of three games with the parent Montreal Canadiens in 1983-84.
The same 10-year time frame yielded 499 NHL contests for Mike Allison, who spent at least one full NHL season with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings.
Andy and Frank Bathgate
Frank and Andy Bathgate of Winnipeg, Manitoba simultaneously broke in with the New York Rangers in 1952-53. The elder Frank was finished after two games played while 18 NHL games that season soon blossomed into 1,069 career ventures with 973 points for Andy, whose No. 9 was eventually hung up on the Madison Square Garden ceiling.
Matt and Mark Cullen
There is still time for the 34-year-old Mark Cullen, but he presently has only 17 points in 38 NHL games through his first 10 professional seasons. His fullest NHL season to date was in 2005-06, when he logged 16 points in 29 outings with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Through 15 professional seasons, Matt Cullen has tallied a 195-340-535 scoring log in 1,031 NHL games. When he has managed at least 60 appearances in a given season, he has never failed to break double digits in the goal and assist columns.
On the ice, while Mark can claim 2005-06 was his best year yet given his 29 twirls in Chicago, Matt can make the same claim given that he won a Cup with Carolina that year. But the entire family's most meaningful victory was doubtlessly two seasons earlier, when Mark beat cancer and managed to play 53 games for the AHL's Houston Aeros.
Sergei and Fedor Fedorov
Before Fedor Fedorov logged a sparse 18 games with the Canucks and Rangers, he was a treat for Detroit Red Wings rooters to watch.
That is, for Wing nuts living in Port Huron, Mich. or nearby Windsor, Ont. who could not make time or save enough money to go watch their NHL team. Port Huron Border Cats fans still saw the surname “Fedorov” on the back of one player’s jersey in 1998-99, as did Windsor Spitfires fans in 1999-00.
Naturally, the only reason that was such an enthralling spectacle was because of the performances Sergei Fedorov was giving in Motown from 1990-91 through 2002-03.
Neither Fedorov has seen NHL action since 2009, having more recently teamed up in their native KHL.
Wayne and Brent Gretzky
The third-round Tampa Bay Lightning pick played 13 games with the Bolts between 1993-94 and 1994-95. Otherwise, Brent Gretzky spent his first three professional seasons with Tampa’s IHL affiliate in Atlanta and then made 13 other stops in five leagues and three countries over 11 more campaigns.
Brent’s brother, Wayne, kind of…sort of…broke 61 league records in 20 NHL seasons. His only time in any other professional circuit was in the World Hockey Association, which was still a major league, and at the age of 17.
Gordie and Vic Howe
Vic Howe’s most fulfilling NHL season was in 1954-55, when he played 29 games and tallied six points for the New York Rangers. That ride proved to be the end of an NHL career that lasted all of 33 contests.
That same year, Vic’s older brother, Gordie, won his last of four Stanley Cups, leading the champion Red Wings with 29 regular-season goals and 20 playoff points. There would be 17 seasons with Detroit and seven with Houston and Hartford still to come after that.
Aurel and Bobby Joliat
Paul and Steve Kariya
The younger Kariya subsequently broke in with the Vancouver Canucks, spending the better part of 1999-00 at the top level. But with each successive season, his ratio between NHL and minor league action gradually turned in the other direction, with 45 appearances as a rookie, 17 in 2000-01 and three in 2001-02 before eight seasons in the AHL and overseas.
Paul did not experience a single reassignment in a 15-year career, all the while logging exactly a point per game with 989.
Miikka and Marko Kiprusoff
Marko Kiprusoff was in North America for all or part of two nonconsecutive seasons, splitting 1995-96 between the Fredericton Canadiens and Montreal and then doing the same in 2001-02 between the Islanders and Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
His NHL career was effectively over after that with only 10 assists in 51 games to speak of. At that time, a 25-year-old Miikka Kiprusoff was only revving up on the heels of two NHL-AHL split seasons in San Jose’s system.
Kiprusoff’s next start with the Calgary Flames will bring his NHL transcript to 500 games played, featuring 311 winning decisions and a Vezina Trophy.
Mario and Alain Lemieux
Under extenuating circumstances, Alain Lemieux is the only less accomplished half of any sibling combinations on this list to have broken triple digits in the NHL games-played column. He put in a decent 119 regular-season appearances in the top league, emphatically earning his stripes in the minors.
What makes the circumstances so extenuating? Oh, just the fact that in 915 NHL twirls, brother Mario charged up 690 goals, 1,033 assists, six Art Ross Trophies, three Hart Trophies, two Conn Smythes, two Stanley Cups and prompt Hall of Fame enshrinement after his first retirement in 1997.
Trevor and Jamie Linden
Jamie Linden’s membership in the NHLPA was good for only four games with the Florida Panthers in 1994-95. He otherwise split five professional seasons amongst the Birmingham Bulls of the ECHL, the Carolina Monarchs of the AHL and the Cincinnati Cyclones, Grand Rapids Griffins and Las Vegas Thunder of the IHL.
Trevor Linden’s membership in the NHLPA was highlighted by eight years as the organization’s president. He never played a minor league game, splitting 19 NHL seasons amongst the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals, variously captaining two of those teams.
Eric and Brett Lindros
Both of the Lindros brothers had the misfortune of concussions cutting their careers short. But by comparison, Brett had it worse, managing only 51 appearances with the New York Islanders in two seasons, retiring only two years after he was drafted ninth overall.
In all but the last 13 nonconsecutive NHL seasons, Eric Lindros broke double digits in every scoring column and finished four campaigns in the 40-goal range. In addition, he charged up 57 points in 50 postseason games with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Basil and Chris McRae
Chris McRae’s most fulfilling NHL campaign featured 11 appearances with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1987-88. His most productive professional campaign was a fireworks finale with the IHL’s Fort Wayne Komets, for whom he tallied 20 goals and 34 points in 1991-92.
While he needed five up-and-down years to make it happen, Basil McRae eventually became an NHL mainstay by 1986-87, when he aggregated 69 appearances with Detroit and Quebec. He followed that with five seasons as a Minnesota North Star and three in Tampa Bay and St. Louis before his skills declined.
Mark and Paul Messier
Only nine games and no points with the 1978-79 Colorado Rockies? No wonder Paul Messier is forgotten.
One year after the elder Messier’s minimal moment of glory, his brother, Mark, one-upped him in a hurry with 75 games played and 33 points in his first NHL campaign with the Oilers.
Almost a quarter of a century later, Mark Messier finalized his Hall of Fame transcript with 1,887 points in 1,756 regular-season games and 295 points in 236 postseason outings coupled with six championships.
Lyle and Selmar Odelein
Selmar Odelein could not land a full-time roster spot after three seasons split between the Edmonton Oilers and their AHL farm base in Nova Scotia. After those three seasons yielded a mere 18 NHL outings, he went on to spend five years overseas.
Brother and fellow defenseman Lyle Odelein, on the other hand, required two seasons in the minors before he broke in with the Canadiens in 1990, after which he was an NHL mainstay for 16 years and 1,056 games played.
Jay and Mike Pandolfo
Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres the summer before he began his four-year career at Boston University, Mike Pandolfo mustered three NHL appearances with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2003-04. His playing days were over altogether by the summer of 2008, 10 years after he was drafted.
That entire timeline is encompassed by Jay Pandolfo’s NHL career, which began with the Devils in 1996-97 and featured two Stanley Cups in 13 seasons in New Jersey. He has more recently resuscitated his NHL caliber by spending 2011-12 with the Islanders and has spent this week trying out for his hometown Bruins.
Any additional action Jay may log will be added on to a stat line of 881 games, 100 goals and 226 points.
Jean, Marcel and Claude Pronovost
Claude Pronovost was a practice goalie for Montreal during the golden age of the Original Six and mustered a mere three looks at extramural action.
His skating brothers, Jean and Marcel, charged up a whopping 998 and 1,206 NHL games, respectively. The winger, Jean, finished four seasons in the 40-goal range or better while the defenseman, Marcel, won five Stanley Cups.
Robyn and Richie Regehr
Richie Regehr, upon maxing out his major junior eligibility, signed with older brother Robyn’s Calgary Flames a month after their Cinderella run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final had ended. But he only mustered 20 games spaced over two seasons with Robyn before seeking thicker ice overseas.
Robyn enters the 2012-13 season with 903 NHL outings through his first 13 years in the pros.
Larry and Moe Robinson
Patrick and Stephane Roy
A 1985 third-round draft choice by the Minnesota North Stars, Stephane played 12 games and scored one goal as an NHL rookie in 1987-88.
It was all downhill from there. The Quebecois pivot never made it back to The Show and ultimately retired after the 2001-02 season.
Roy’s brother and former Granby Bisons teammate hung up his goalie pads a year after that, but not before winning four Cups, three Conn Smythes and three Vezinas.
Joe and Brian Sakic
Brian Sakic spent his first professional season in 1992-93 with the ECHL’s Erie Panthers and then became a Flint mainstay from 1993 through his retirement in 1999. That six-year run was interrupted only by a 16-game stint with the Austin Ice Bats in the Western Professional League.
The younger Sakic can say this much: Just like his brother, Joe, he won a playoff championship in 1996. While Joe was captaining the Colorado Avalanche to the Stanley Cup and ultimately claimed the Conn Smythe Trophy, Brian won the Colonial Cup with the Flint Generals.
But while Joe recently put a stamp on his legacy by way of induction into the Hall of Fame, Brian was drafted by the Washington Capitals in 1990, but he never saw action beyond the Double-A level.
Peter and Nolan Schaefer
Nolan Schaefer’s journey currently has him in his second straight season in Switzerland. Over 10 professional seasons, the goaltending graduate of Providence College has made seven NHL appearances with San Jose but has otherwise bounced around six AHL cities and two overseas destinations.
Peter, on the other hand, played the full 82-game schedule with the Vancouver Canucks in 2000-01 and again with the Ottawa Senators in 2005-06. By the end of his career, the winger had tallied 99 goals and 261 points in 572 games.
Fred, Jack and Jim Stanfield
Jack’s NHL career began and ended with one postseason game with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1966. Jim Stanfield rolled up seven twirls with the Los Angeles Kings over a three-year span between 1969-70 and 1971-72.
Jack’s one-night career with the Blackhawks overlapped with Fred’s three-year stay in Chicago. Concomitant with Jim’s time in the Kings organization, spent largely with AHL Springfield, was Fred’s participation in the banner years of the Big, Bad Bruins.
After winning two Cups in seven seasons with Boston, Fred Stanfield played an additional five NHL campaigns in Minnesota and Buffalo.
Scott and Mike Stevens
Mike Stevens’ aggregate 23 games played with four NHL teams matched the length of brother Scott’s run to the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy with New Jersey in 2000. That was the second of three titles and four finals appearances for Scott Stevens, a Hall of Fame defenseman who never finished with a negative rating in any of his 21 NHL seasons.
Bryan and Rocky Trottier
While he did not know it at the time, Rocky’s NHL career was over after 33 games played in 1984-85. A year after his last professional game altogether with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, Bryan won his fifth Cup, this time with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bryan Trottier’s Hall of Fame career capped off with six Cups and a transcript of 221 games played, 71 goals and 113 assists in the postseason alone.