The 10 Most Successful Hockey Families in NHL History
Hockey has always been a different kind of sport than baseball, basketball or football. As children, boys and girls who excel spend a lot of time together in the car or van with their parents driving to hockey games and spending the weekend in hotels.
Consequently, a lot of kids tend to follow siblings onto the rink; many played on the same team. In Canada and the United States, it is common to see family members on the rink skating as teammates. The NHL has many famous family acts that have added to its legend throughout the years.
We have listed the ten most successful, but there are many honorable mentions. These include Eric and Brett Lindros, Joe and Jim Watson, Barkley and Bob Plager, Larry and Jim Playfair, Marcel and Gilbert Dionne, Rob and Scott Neidemeyer and a host of others. We even included a first runners-up placement to liven the debate.
The Howes - Gordie, Mark, and Marty and Colleen
Detroit Red Wing great Gordie Howe came out of retirement for the chance to play with his sons Mark and Marty. The NHL prohibited the drafting of 18-year-olds. so Mark and Marty would not be eligible for several years.
The trio signed with the WHA Houston Aeros and propelled their team to the league championship. Mark delighted the Houston fans with a star performance despite his youth and inexperience. Marty played stellar defense, helping to anchor the Houston defense, and Gordie proved to be more than a drawing card by leading the team in scoring with more than 100 points.
When the NHL absorbed the WHA, the Howes also came back, joining the Hartford Whalers. Durability was Gordie Howe. In his tenure as a professional hockey player, he skated right wing through the presidencies of Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. He played a remarkable 32 years. At 51, when he should have been in rocking chair on his front porch, he was still playing a regular shift in the NHL.
Not even more than 300 stitches, damaged knee cartilages, broken ribs, a broken wrist, several broken toes, a dislocated shoulder, an assortment of scalp wounds, a painful ankle injury and a near-brush with death could derail his NHL dominance.
Competing for as long as Howe did, one is bound to put up incredible numbers. His stats (World Hockey Association and playoff games included): 2,421 games, 1,071 goals, 1,518 assists, 2,589 points and 2,418 penalty minutes. He held NHL records of 801 goals (regular season) and 1,850 points until Wayne Gretzky came long. Besides Howe's endurance, there was the ability and determination that enabled him to win six MVP awards and six scoring championships with the Detroit Red Wings.
The Hulls - Bobby, Brett, Dennis
The Hull family definitely has hockey in its genes. Bobby's younger brother Dennis (nicknamed "the Silver Jet"), starred alongside him with the Chicago Blackhawks for eight seasons, scoring over 300 goals in his own right.
Some journalists often wondered whether Bobby or Dennis had the harder shot.
Bobby's third-youngest son, Brett Hull (the "Golden Brett"), was a more glittering star yet, finishing his own illustrious career with the third-highest goal total in NHL history. Bobby and Brett are the only father-and-son tandem to achieve the marks of more than 50 goals in a season and more than 600 NHL goals. They are also the only father-and-son tandem to win the Hart Trophy and Lady Byng Trophy.
While playing for the Phoenix Coyotes (formerly the Winnipeg Jets) in 2005, Brett donned his father's retired #9 for the last five games of his career. Bobby and Brett are the only father and son combination in any professional sport to both have their numbers retired. Bobby's #9 was retired by the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets (now Phoenix Coyotes), and Brett's #16 was retired by the St. Louis Blues.
Bobby's other sons included: Bart Hull, a standout running back for the Boise State University Bronco's football team in the early 1990s, and briefly played with British Columbia Lions prior to a recurring knee injury. Bobby Jr. and Blake both played junior and senior hockey. Bobby won the Memorial Cup with the 1980 Cornwall Royals. Later, they played together for the Allan Cup-winning Brantford Mott's Clamatos of the OHA Senior A Hockey League (AAA Men's Amateur) in 1987. Bobby Jr. also possessed a powerful shot, but lacked the scoring touch of his father and brother Brett.
Hull's daughter and youngest child, Michelle, was an accomplished figure skater, becoming British Columbia Pre-Novice Champion at the age of 11. After many knee injuries, she concentrated on becoming an attorney licensed in two states.
The Richards - Maurice and Henri
If there is any such thing as hockey royalty, the Richards wear the crown.
Maurice" The Rocket" Richard was one of the biggest stars in the game. He possessed all the intangibles that made a player great. Not only was he known for his skating speed and shot, but also his tireless determination to score a goal. Richard once scored while carrying a defender on his back.
Ted Lindsay said, "If the Rocket was playing in The NHL today he would score 100 goals."
His brother Henri, also a Hall-of-Famer and Montreal captain, was very dangerous in a different way. Henri was a relentless checker, skilled stickhandler and clutch scorer. When Maurice passed away, his funeral ceremony was on a par with those held for heads of state. The Richards helped create the Montreal Canadien brand.
The Espositos - Phil and Tony
Elder brother Phil (Espo) broke every record in the NHL for scoring goals. His 76 goals and 152 points in 78 games was thought to be unreachable until the Edmonton Oilers' offensive machine and Wayne Gretzky appeared on the scene.
Tony (Tony O), one year younger, broke the record for stopping them. In 1971, his first year in Chicago with the Blackhawks, Tony shut out the opposition 15 times, an unprecedented record that still stands.
In their long careers, time and again at the goal crease, they had no choice but to face each other. In 1972, the time came for Canada to take on the hockey archenemy of the time, the Russians. Together the brothers answered the call and became heroes of the day.
Phil showed his leadership ability and will forever be remembered for making a impassioned plea for the fans to get behind Team Canada. The strategy worked, and Team Canada—playing without Bobby Orr and Bobby Hull—made a dramatic comeback to win the international series.
Both brothers were involved with the management of Tampa Bay Lightning and continue to be visible in the hockey world.
The Mahovolichs - Frank and Pete
Frank Mahovlich was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981 and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1994, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.
In 1998, Mahovlich was appointed to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. In the same year, he was ranked No. 26 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 greatest hockey players, the highest-ranking player who had spent at least a majority of his career with the Maple Leafs.
Pete had a distinguished career, winning numerous Stanley Cups while centering Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt.
But it was his passion during the Canada Cup that set him apart and made hockey fans remember he was a Mahovolich.
The Potvins - Denis and Jean and Marc
The Potvin brothers had the opportunity to play together in the New York Islanders' formative years. On occasion, they played on the powerplay together.
After graduating from their junior team, the Ottawa 67 in the OHA, Jean preceded Denis to the NHL. It is well known that Denis emerged as the top draft choice and best player int he junior ranks.
After becoming the Islanders' top choice, Denis quickly showed his ability by emerging as the NHL Rookie of the Year and winning the Calder Trophy. he followed that with four Stanley Cups and multiple Norris Trophies as the best defenseman in the NHL.
Jean and Denis both maintain a presence in the NHL and have both been in the broadcast booth, Jean for the Islanders and Denis with the Florida Panthers. Currently Jean works in the investment field while Denis maintains business interests in Florida.
The Bowmans - Scotty and Stan
Scotty holds the record for most wins in league history, with 1,244 in the regular season and 223 in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
He coached the St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Detroit Red Wings. He is currently the Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations for the Chicago Blackhawks, where his son Stan is the newly appointed GM.
As head coach, Bowman has won a record nine Stanley Cups with the Canadiens (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979), Penguins (1992) and Red Wings (1997, 1998, and 2002). He was also part of the 1991 Penguins Stanley Cup-winning team as director of player development. In 2008, he won his 11th Stanley Cup as a consultant with the Detroit Red Wings. He won the Jack Adams Award in 1977 and 1996. In the 1976–77 season he won a record 60 games and broke his own record with 62 wins in 1995–96.
Bowman is the only head coach in the history of the NHL, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, or the National Basketball Association who has won championships with three different teams.
The Statsnys - Peter, Anton, Marian and Paul
The Statsnys are the first threesome to play together since the Bentley brothers. Born in the Czech Republic, Peter left to join the NHL Quebec Nordiques and won the Calder Trophy, becoming the first rookie to score 100 points.
He was later joined in the NHL by his brothers Anton and Marian to form a explosive unit. Peter made six All-Star appearances and is the father of another NHL standout and Calder finalist: Paul Statsny.
The Sutters - Brian, Duane, Brent, Rich and Ron
No family has been more prominent in North American hockey than the Sutter brothers.
Brian, Darryl, Duane, Brent, Rich, and Ron learned their craft on the family farm in Viking, Alberta. That work ethic is exemplified in their play.
During the 1980s, six Sutter brothers played in the National Hockey League. While their professional paths took many twists and turns, their journeys all began the same.
Each Sutter honed his hockey skills and reputation at the junior level while playing for the Red Deer Rustlers and Lethbridge Broncos. No family has been more represented in the NHL than the Sutters. After their NHL playing careers were over, many went into coaching and management positions.
The Apps - Syl Sr., Syl Jr., Syl III
The Apps family is almost legendary in the NHL. Syl Apps, Sr., played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and was a national hero for his skillful and clean play.
Syl Apps, Jr., also had a standout career playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
More recently, Syl Apps III has made his presence felt starring in the ECHL. The Apps bloodline continues to find its way on the ice—it is now three generations strong and counting.
(Tied) First Runners Up -The Staal's - Eric, Jordan,Marc, and Jared
Jordan and his three brothers are well on their way to becoming the first family of hockey. Marc and Jared, both have bright futures in the NHL..
Eric, broke out with the Hurricanes in his second season, his combination of elusive quickness and lethal scoring touch producing a 100-point season that helped lead Carolina to a Stanley Cup. Despite a boy-next-door personality, Eric landed in a glamour GQ photo shoot and is featured on the cover of the N.H.L. 2007 video game.
Eric was No. 2 in 2003 — and the choice paid immediate dividends for the Stanley Cup Champion Penguins. The Staals are a family to watch.
(Tied) First Runners Up - The Sedins - Daniel and Henrik
The Sedin brothers have emerged as effective performers for the Canucks. Realizing their value, the Canuck re-signed them to lucrative extensions. While it is still early, it appears that the brothers may be successful in carving out a name for themselves.