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When beloved NHL play-by-play man Doc Emrick announced his retirement this week after 50 years covering the league, he made an interesting observation. At the start of his career, Emrick marvelled, Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull were still playing. And by the end, those legends had sons in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
That really put Emrick’s longevity in perspective, and it also got me thinking about father/son combos in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Here’s a look at the four instances where both men made it as players, plus another family connection that doesn’t quite meet the criteria but I just wanted to bring up anyway:
Bobby Hull and Brett Hull
The gold standard, easily. The Golden Jet and the Golden Brett are the only father/son duo to each score 50 goals in a season, to each reach 600 goals in their career, and to each win the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP. Brett ranks fourth all-time with 741 goals and Bobby is 18th with 610.
Naturally, then, Brett’s son (and Bobby’s grandson) Jude chose to put all those scoring genes to use as… a goalie?! He never made it past college, but at least he has a sense of humour about it.
Gordie Howe and Mark Howe
Gordie needs no introduction. He’s one of the greatest players (some say the greatest) of all time and still ranks second in NHL history with 801 goals.
Mark was a productive defenceman who inherited his dad’s longevity and a bit of his scoring ability. His career in the WHA and NHL spanned more than two decades, from the mid-’70s to the mid-’90s. He never won the Norris Trophy, but he finished second in voting three times and averaged 18 goals over his first nine NHL seasons, which came in the run-and-gun ’80s.
The Howes, famously, even got to play together. They did so (along with Mark’s brother Marty) first with the WHA’s Houston Aeros and then in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80. That was the final season for Gordie, who was 52 (!) when he played his last NHL game.
Lester Patrick and Lynn Patrick (and Craig Patrick)
That’s three generations of Hall of Famers, though grandson Craig got in as a “builder” — mostly for his work as an NHL general manager.
Lester was one of the top defencemen of the pre-NHL days, which got him into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1947, though he’s probably better known for his work as coach and GM of the Rangers. That included an emergency appearance in net in the 1928 Stanley Cup final, where a 44-year-old Patrick stepped out from behind the bench to replace the injured starter for a game and help the Rangers win the Cup.
Lynn spent his whole NHL career playing for his dad’s Rangers teams. He led the league with 32 goals (in 47 games) in 1941-42 and had two other 20-goal seasons.
Oliver Seibert and Earl Seibert
Thanks to reader Simon for pointing out this duo, who are the answers to a trivia question you can probably stump most of your friends with. The Seiberts — not the Hulls, not the Howes — are the first father/son combo to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as players.
Oliver’s career pre-dated the NHL, but he was one of the better scorers of his day and one of the early adopters of the wrist shot.
Earl was one of the most respected and feared defencemen of the ’30s and ’40s, known for his hard-nosed play but also skilled enough to finish fourth in MVP voting twice and make 12 consecutive all-star teams. Unfortunately, he was also involved in one of the darkest moments in hockey history. Racing for a loose puck with the great Howie Morentz, Seibert caused him to fall awkwardly into the boards, breaking his leg. Six weeks later, Morentz died in the hospital.
Honourable mention: The Hextalls
Bryan Hextall was one of the better forwards of the late ’30s and early ’40s. Playing for the Rangers, he led the NHL in goals twice and had six consecutive 20-goal years at a time when the season was 48 or 50 games. He’s in the Hall of Fame as a player.
His sons Bryan and Dennis both had decent NHL careers but aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Neither is his grandson Ron, but you can build a case for him. He was one of the most famous goalies of the ’80s and ’90s and the first NHL netminder to truly score a goal. Billy Smith technically beat Hextall to it, but his was actually an own goal that Smith got credit for by being the last player on his team to touch the puck. Hextall became the first goalie to actually shoot one into the net in December 1987, and he did it again in the ’89 playoffs. His ability and willingness to play the puck outside of his crease were ahead of his time.
Hextall also had one of the most interesting rookie seasons of all time in 1986-87. He won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie, but not the Calder for rookie of the year (that went to Luc Robitaille), and then won the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP despite his Flyers’ losing the final. Only five guys have ever done that.
One more Hextall family note: Ron’s cousin (and Bryan’s granddaughter) Leah Hextall is a broadcaster who handled her first play-by-play assignment last March as part of the first all-woman broadcast crew to work an NHL game.
The Rays pulled even in the World Series. Brandon Lowe hit two home runs, Blake Snell struck out nine in less than five innings of work and Tampa Bay’s relievers held the fort for a 6-4 win over the Dodgers in Game 2 last night. Game 3 is Friday night and features a strong pitching matchup: Tampa’s Charlie Morton vs. L.A.’s Walker Buehler. Read more about the Rays’ series-tying win here.
Women’s pro hockey got a financial boost. A deodorant brand has pledged $1 million in sponsorship money to the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, which they say is the largest corporate commitment ever made in North American professional women’s hockey. The PWHPA is the group formed by 180 or so players last year after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded. The players have refused to participate in the only remaining North American women’s pro league, the NWHL, because they don’t believe it pays enough and they doubt its long-term viability. The PWHPA is seeking what it describes as a “single, sustainable” women’s pro league, preferably backed by the NHL. In the meantime, its members have trained together and played in the barnstorming Dream Gap Tour, which began last winter. A second tour is planned for early 2021, and this time players will earn prize money thanks to the new sponsorship. Read more about it here.
The Canadian figure skating championships were pushed back a month. Rather than Jan. 11-17, they’re now scheduled for Feb. 8-14 (still in Vancouver). The idea is to buy more time in hopes that various pandemic-related concerns lessen. Canada’s figure skating governing body also reduced the number of competitors. There will be only two flights in each discipline. The results decide who gets to represent Canada at the world championships in late March in Sweden, though it’s uncertain whether that event will happen. If you missed yesterday’s newsletter, read more about the many challenges facing the figure skating season here.
A new (and different-looking) season of Battle of the Blades debuts tonight. For the sixth season of the CBC live-competition show that pairs hockey players with figure skaters to perform on ice for a panel of judges, the focus is on diversity. For the first time, three female hockey players and three male figure skaters are involved, and four of the competitors are Black — former NHLers Akim Aliu and Anthony Stewart, and skaters Asher Hill and Vanessa James. In addition, Canadian figure skater Elladj Baldé is a judge and singer Keshia Chanté co-hosts. Watch the first episode at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on the CBC TV network and CBC Gem, and read more about the more-diverse cast here.
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