When a young hockey player is drafted, the first thing he does is thank his family. He turns to them, shakes their hands, and hugs them. It’s a sign of appreciation and respect, because he realizes the sacrifice made by those around him to get him to that point. It wasn’t just one person doing; it was a family effort.
It’s a long hard road, and it was his family that walked along beside him. Those 4 AM practices on the other side of town, road trips to tournaments across state, new hockey pads, and registration – it takes its toll on any family unit.
Hockey is a wonderful team sport, and it epitomizes so many things, first of which is sacrifice. In honor of the upcoming Family Day in Canada and the sacrifice so many Mom’s and Dad’s, Brother’s, Sister’s, Aunt’s, Uncle’s, even Grandparents have made over the years to help young men around the globe achieve their dreams, this Hockey’s Future Top 5 takes a look at the five best prospect-producing families in the world. Yes, we’re literally looking at family units as hockey factories.
5. The Ritchies (2)
Brett Ritchie (DAL) and Nick Ritchie (ANA) come by their athletic skill and empowering size honestly. Their parents were athletes in their prime. The father, Paul Ritchie, played in the OHL while their mother, Tammy, was a three-sport athlete in college. The boys have big-time potential, and will likely be NHL factors sooner rather than later. In fact, Brett, the older of the two Ritchie brothers, has already demonstrated his NHL-readiness this season. While Brett looks to have a little bit more offensive upside (despite being drafted much later than his brother was), both have the size, tenacity, and truculence to be real gamers.
4. The Stromes (3)
Ryan Strome (NYI) and Dylan Strome (2015) have the potential to be very special players, and after Ryan was drafted fifth overall by the Islanders in 2011, Dylan looks capable, and almost determined, to make himself a potential top-five pick in this year’s draft. Two brothers in the top five – that’s incredible…but what about three in the top five? Matt Strome, the youngest brother at age sixteen is currently making waves in the GTMMHL as an OHL prospect. It will be difficult for Matt to duplicate what his brothers have accomplished so far, but it’s not beyond impossible that a few years from now we’ll all be hearing about another Strome at the top of the draft rankings.
3. The Subbans (3)
Karl Subban is a quintessential hockey dad–but he’s maybe just a little bit better at it than most of the guys walking around with clipboards and club jackets. The retired school principal has not only brought up three exceptional young hockey players in P.K. Subban (MTL), Jordan Subban (VAN), and Malcolm Subban (BOS), but his two daughters, Natassia and Natasha, are athletes as well. The Subbans have a very traditional story of sacrifice and passion. Karl built the kids a backyard rink and would often build family holidays around hockey tournaments in and around Ontario. He gave up so much for his kids, because he believed in their dreams. Karl is a fantastic person, and not to take away from what he’s done for his children, but his story is so much like that of so many hockey parents around the globe; the sacrifices still happen, even if the dreams aren’t achieved.
2. The Reinharts (3)
The Reinhart brothers – Max Reinhart (CGY), Griffin Reinhart (NYI), and Sam Reinhart (BUF) – had an opportunity earlier in the season to be the first trio of brothers in the league to all play in their rookie season together. And, while things haven’t gone as planned, they still could potentially compete for the Calder Trophy next year – in fact, it’s looking like a forgone conclusion that all three will probably crack their respective lineups in 2015-16. Paul (a former NHL player in his own right) and Theresa Reinhart were very influential in their sons’ path to excellence. They built a very competitive and nurturing (if that’s even possible) environment for their boys, and you can tell by the way each of the brothers carry themselves that they’ve not just brought up future hockey stars, but future leaders, on and off the ice.
1. The Shores (4)
Some hockey families were meant to be. Parents David and Sarah Shore had their first-ever date at a Denver University hockey game. And now, while perhaps lesser known than some of the other siblings on this list, the Shore brothers are on the precipice of becoming new age hockey royalty like the Sutter brothers of yesteryear. Drew Shore (CGY), Nick Shore (LAK), Quentin Shore (OTT), and Baker Shore (age fifteen, and supposedly the best of the bunch) have flown under the radar, but if this season is any indication, the NHL is about to become very familiar with the Shore family–so get ready for a bunch of post-game video packages! Drew recently was called up by the Calgary Flames after being traded by the Florida Panthers, and Nick at 22 was leading the AHL in scoring before his call-up. There might not be the same sort of upper-tier potential in the first three Shores, but all have what it takes to become NHL regulars.
The Reillys, The Schmaltz’s, The Throwers, The McLeods, The Quennevilles
Who’s the best hockey prospect family? And why is it yours? Are we missing anyone in our top 5? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Follow Craig Fischer on Twitter via @fgiarc