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Tabatha Patterson The Hockey Writers

Published on Thursday, March 19, 2015





From Benn to Schenn: Brothers in the NHL – Part I

Currently, there are four pairs of brothers playing for the same teams in the NHL; the Benns, Schenns, Sedins, and Staals. The seven other pairs must compete against their siblings, as they play for opposing teams. In solidarity with both of her sons, Drew and Ryan Miller’s mother made her own jacket, a red and blue number sewn from a half of each son’s jersey. Other players, however, including Stephen Gionta and Jamie Benn, stake claims as their mom’s favorites.

So who are these pairs of brothers currently playing in the NHL? Which brothers can tell intriguing tales of their journey to the majors, and how they shared this path?

Jamie and Jordie Benn

Despite their familial relationship, Jamie and Jordie Benn traveled separate roads to the NHL. While the Stars drafted Jamie in the fifth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Jordie worked his way through the minor leagues. Playing for the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL, and the Allen Americans of the former CHL, Jordie took the minor league path when he wasn’t picked to play for a Major Junior team.

Jamie originally intended to play college hockey for the University of Alaska – Fairbanks on a scholarship, but instead chose the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. With only two seasons of major junior hockey under his belt, the Stars called up the younger brother to play his first full NHL season in 2009. That same season, Jordie signed with the Allen Americans,  and both brothers found themselves in Texas long-term.

Check out this old-school interview from the Benns’ early days in the NHL:

Today, Jamie holds a team record as the first Star to reach 100 career points before his 23rd birthday. In 2012, he won the shot accuracy competition at the 2012 All-Star Game Skills Competition, and was later named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2013-14. That same season, Jamie Benn played for Canada in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, scoring the game winning goal in his first game. He later led Team Canada to a 1-0 shutout over the United States, scoring the lone goal.

Known for his signature shoot-out move (and ferocious beard), Jordie staggered on his journey to the NHL. Eventually, multiple development opportunities in the AHL led Jordie to his permanent position on the Stars’ blue line. Despite slow starts each season, Jordie turns up the intensity late in the season.

[Related: Jamie Benn – A Superstar is Born]

Marcus and Nick Foligno

Raised by former NHL star and coach, Mike Foligno, Marcus and Nick grew up playing hockey with a rotating cast of legends. Born four years apart, the Foligno brothers never had the opportunity to play on the same team professionally or internationally. Nick plays for the United States and Marcus plays for Canada, each competing for separate national teams due to their dual citizenship.

As the Blue Jackets’ current captain, Nick Foligno also served as a team captain in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game. In two opportunities to play in the World Championship, Nick took fourth place with the United States in 2009, and 13th overall in 2010. Younger brother, Marcus, won a silver medal with Canada in the 2011 World Junior Championship during his first international stint.

The Foligno family supports many charitable causes after losing their mother to cancer in 2009. Currently, both brothers and their sisters, Cara and Lisa, manage the Janis Foligno Foundation. The foundation is partnered with nine charities, including Meals on Wheels, House of Kin, and Northern Cancer Research Centre.

Brian and Stephen Gionta

The younger brother by five years, Stephen followed in Brian’s footsteps. Each player stands at 5’7”, and played four seasons with Boston College before beginning their careers in the Devils’ system. While Stephen continued his career in New Jersey, splitting time between the NHL and the Devils’ AHL affiliates, Brian went on to captain both the Canadiens and Sabres.

Both brothers had a shot at a Stanley Cup, but Stephen lost in the 2012 final with the Devils, while Brian won the cup with New Jersey in 2003. Brian is still the franchise leader for goals scored in a single season with 48 in 2005-06. Stephen, however, won bronze playing for the United States in the 2013 World Championship.

[Related: Brian & Stephen Gionta Go Head to Head]

Jimmy and Kevin Hayes

As second and first round draft picks, Jimmy and Kevin Hayes each make a big impact on their respective NHL teams. After four seasons playing for Boston College, Kevin won the 2014 Beanpot MVP in Boston College’s fifth straight win. Later that year, Kevin was chosen to play for the United States in the 2014 World Championship. With both Hayes brothers on the roster, the United States took sixth place overall. By October 2014, Kevin Hayes made his NHL debut with the New York Rangers.

Just two years ahead of his younger brother, Panthers forward, Jimmy Hayes, also played hockey for Boston College. In the 2009-10 seasons, Hayes contributed to Boston College’s win in the NCAA Frozen Four Final.

Known for opposite personalities, Jimmy is described as hard-working and quiet, while Kevin’s teammates joke about his “swagger.” Nevertheless, the brothers share a common drive, as their respective Eastern Conference teams battle to the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Milan and Zbynek Michalek

Born two years apart, Milan and Zbynek Michalek appear to have little in common. Milan is a left-shooting forward, while Zbynek is a right-shooting defenseman. Milan spent his junior career in the Czech Republic, while Zbynek played in the QMJHL. San Jose picked Milan in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, while Zbynek worked his way through the minor leagues, striving to reach the NHL.

In fact, the Michalek brothers are used to competing against one another as both played in the Pacific Division early in their professional careers; Milan for the Sharks, and Zbynek for the Coyotes. This divisional rivalry made playing together for the Czech Republic in the 2010 Winter Olympics a meaningful occasion for the whole Michalek family.

Drew and Ryan Miller

As a forward and a goaltender, Drew and Ryan Miller find plenty of opportunities for one-on-one situations, despite playing in separate conferences. Ryan even took on a Drew Miller breakaway attempt, stopping the puck in a match up between the Canucks and Red Wings in November.

Despite Drew’s silver locks, Ryan is the older brother. Chosen in the fifth round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Ryan Miller backstopped the United States to a silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He also won the Vezina Trophy and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team that year. Drew Miller, however, holds the coveted cup, which he won with Anaheim in 2007. The winger was originally drafted by Anaheim in the sixth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Both brothers are known for their continued charity efforts. Ryan established The Steadfast Foundation to support children suffering from cancer. Meanwhile, Drew donates $75 for every blocked shot he records in the 2014-15 season in support of the Salvation Army’s Bed & Bread Truck program. Regardless of championship cup wins or Olympic medals, these guys are real winners.

Brothers in the NHL Lend Assists on Lifelong Goals

Whether mom’s favorite, or a fan favorite, each brother in the NHL reached the big show in their own way. Some journeys were more direct than others, but these hardworking siblings helped each other become the players they are today.

The first half of this two-part series examines six well known sibling pairs who are making a big impact on the NHL. However there are still five pairs worth getting to know, including the Schenns, Sedins, Smiths, Staals, and van Riemsdyks. The second half will also highlight the honorable mentions who made their NHL debuts in the 2014-15 season.


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