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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Family lines and the St. Louis connection

Hockey likes to advertise itself as a family sport, particularly in Canada where the roots of professional hockey runs almost four generations deep nowadays. In this week's post we feature our first Sutter brother, Brent, the most statistically successful of the six brothers from Viking, Alberta, that played in the NHL. The story of the Sutters is well-known to hockey fans, but I present for your consideration a challenger to the Sutter family, the Miller family.

The Millers from Lansing, Michigan boasted three NHLers in the late 1980s through the early 2000s, with brothers Kevin (featured below), Kelly and Kip. If you factor in cousins, you can add Drew and Ryan, both veteran NHLers from the early 2000s until today. While the Millers are not nearly as prolific in statistics as some other family connections, when it comes down to straight same generation families, the Millers deserve recognition, right up there with the Stastnys, Brotens, Hunters and Staals, combining for 3481 games and 1159 points.

Over the last six months I've spent a lot of time looking at hockey cards, particularly this set. This week I finally noticed that many of the cards in this set that feature background players include St. Louis Blues players in their home whites. Checking out this week's post, you see Blues players feature in Brent Sutter, Tomas Sandstrom and Kelly Miller's cards. I've also noticed that all of the Blues players are pictured in their home whites. This all leads me to believe that the photographer for the set was based out of St. Louis. I wish I could confirm this, but it's fun the things you notice when you look at something long enough!

Card 137 - Patrick Roy

Goaltender Roy was drafted 51st overall by Montreal in the 1984 draft. That season he would appear in 1 NHL game and 1 AHL regular season game before playing in 13 playoff games with Sherbrooke on their way to a Calder Cup victory.

His early playoff success would set the tone for his career, making his NHL debut in 1985-86, sharing crease time with Steve Penney and Doug Soetaert. Roy would win 23 regular season games and be named to the all-rookie team, but again the playoffs is where he would shine, winning 15 of 20 games as the Habs beat Calgary for the Stanley Cup; Roy would win the Conn Smythe.

Over his next eight seasons with the Habs, Roy would accomplish the following:

  • Win the Jennings Trophy four times (1987-1989, 1992)

  • Win the Vezina Trophy three times (1989, 1990, 1992), finishing second in 1991 and third in 1994.

  • Win the Stanley Cup and his second Conn Smythe (1993)

  • Finish top five in Hart Trophy voting four times, including second to Mark Messier in 1991.

  • Be named a first-team all-star three times and second-team all-star twice.

  • Play in six all-star games.

  • Win 30+ games five times

  • Lead the league in save percentage four times and goals against average twice.

Montreal began to drop off in competitiveness in the mid-1990s and things game to a head on December 2, 1995. The Habs were destroyed by Detroit that evening, 11-1, with Roy kept in the net for nine of those goals. Immediately after he was pulled he told team president Ronald Corey he would never play for the Canadiens again. Four days later he was traded to Colorado along with captain Mike Keane for Andrei Kovalenko, Martin Rucinsky and Jocelyn Thibault.

The trade worked out well for Roy, who would win his third Stanley Cup that season. In 1996-97 he would win a then career-high 38 games and be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. In each of his seven seasons in Colorado Roy would win 30+ games. He would win a fourth Stanley Cup and third Conn Smythe trophy in 2000-01. In 2001-02 he would be named a first-team all-star, finish second in Vezina Trophy voting and lead the league in goals against and save percentage.

Upon retirement at the end of the 2002-03 season, Roy played 1029 games, sporting a 551-351-131 record, .910 save percentage and 2.54 goals against. He ranks third all-time in games played for a goalie, second in wins and first all-time in playoff wins. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.

Roy has owned the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL since 1997 and was their head coach and general manager from 2004 to 2013. He left the post to become coach and vice-president of hockey operations with the Avalanche, a position he held until 2016. In 2018 he resumed his dual role with the Remparts, a position he holds to this day.

YouTube clip: Roy's video from his honouring as one of the top 100 NHL players of all-time.

Card 138 - Hubie McDonough

McDonough was undrafted centre who played tier-two college hockey with the St. Anselm College Hawks from 1982 to 1986 in his home state of New Hampshire. In April 1988 he would sign a free agent contract with Los Angeles after playing with New Haven in the AHL that season, recording 37 goals and 92 points.

After 26 games with the Kings in 1989-90, McDonough was traded to the New York Islanders with Ken Baumgartner for Mikko Makela. With the Isles and Kings he would score 21 goals and 36 points, plus receive a third place vote for the Selke Trophy.

For the next three seasons he would bounce between the Islanders and the IHL, playing 54, 52 and 33 games on Long Island. Prior to the start of the 1992-93 season, he would be traded to San Jose for cash. McDonough would play 30 games for the Sharks, scoring six goals and eight points.

In his NHL career of five seasons, McDonough would play in 195 games, scoring 40 goals and 66 points. From 1993 to 1999 he would average more than a point-per-game playing for San Diego and Orlando in the IHL, twice being named an IHL second-team all-star. He retired from pro hockey in July 1999.

Upon retirement he worked in the front office for Orlando and in 2001 became the director of hockey operations for Manchester in the AHL. In 2018 he was promoted to the role of scout with the Los Angeles Kings.

YouTube clip: scoring his only career playoff goal, in Game 3 of the 1989 Patrick Division semi-final. His goal tied the game with just under 7 minutes left and the Isles went on to win in OT on a Brent Sutter goal. McDonough seemed to relish every goal, as the celebration seems similar to one on this card, explained by Ken Reid

Card 139 - Curtis Joseph

The undrafted goaltender signed with St. Louis in 1989 after playing one season of college hockey with Wisconsin. In his one season as a Badger he would the WCHA player-of-the-year award and was a second team All-American.

His first pro season in 1989-90 was split between St. Louis and Peoria in the AHL, with Joseph winning 9 of 15 NHL games he appeared in. For 90-91 he jumped up to be Vincent Riendeau’s backup with the Blues, winning 16 of 30 games and earning the starter’s role the following season.

The three year stretch between 1991 and 1994 was huge for Joseph. He lead the league in saves all three seasons, twice lead the league in shots against and led the league in save percentage (.911) in 1992-93 Those three season Joseph won 27, 29 and 36 games and was a Vezina finalist in 1993-94.

Joseph also started to earn his reputation as a goalie who comes up big in the playoffs. In the 1993 playoffs he went 7-4 with a .938 save percentage as the Blues lost in the division final to Toronto. That series went seven games despite the Blues only scoring more than two goals in a game once the entire series.

The summer following the lockout shortened 1994-95 season, Joseph was traded to Edmonton with Mike Grier for two first round picks. His first season as an Oiler he would serve as Bill Ranford’s 1B. The following season he would win 32 games as a starter and lead the Oilers to a first round upset over #2 seed Dallas. The following season the Oilers would upset Colorado in the found round, further cementing Joseph’s playoff status.

In 1998 he would sign with Toronto as a free agent. In Joseph’s first season as a Maple Leaf he would boast a 35-24-7 record, and finish second to Dominik Hasek in Vezina Trophy voting despite earning more first place votes (10-8). He would also finish fourth in Hart Trophy voting. In four seasons with the Leafs, Cujo would win 29 or more games each season, win the King Clancy Trophy in 2000 and backstop the team to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002.

As an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2002, Joseph was traded to Calgary for a draft pick, but ultimately signed with Detroit. He would play two seasons with the Wings, but unfortunately these were the seasons in which Detroit would flame out early in the playoffs, getting swept by Anahein in 2003 and losing in the second round of 2004 to Calgary.

In his final four seasons in the NHL he would spend two in Phoenix (winning 32 games in 2005-06), one season in Calgary (9 games) and 21 final games in 2008-09 with the Leafs. In his 19 year career Cujo played in 943 games (sixth all-time), finishing with a 454-352-98 record, .906 save percentage and 2.79 goals against average. He also ranks third all-time in losses and sixth in shots against and saves.

After retirement he briefly coached with his hometown Newmarket in the OJHL and one season with Carolina (2016-17).

YouTube clip: a compilation of career highlights courtesy of Sportsnet.

Card 140 - Brent Sutter

The third eldest of the famous Sutter brothers, centre Brent was drafted 17th overall by the New York Islanders in 1980. He made his pro debut part way through the 1981-82 season, scoring 21 goals and 43 points in 43 games as the Islanders won their third Stanley Cup in a row. The following season would bring the Isles their fourth and final Cup, with Sutter scoring 21 points in 20 playoff games.

1984-85 would be Sutter’s offensive peak, scoring 42 goals and 106 points and making an appearance in that season’s all-star game. Over the latter half of his 12 seasons in New York he would develop into a defensive stalwart but maintain some offensive prowess, scoring 20+ goals and 50+ points in every full season with the Isles. He would also serve as captain from 1987 to 1991.

With the Islanders dynasty ended, Sutter was traded to Chicago early in the 1991-92 season alongside teammate Brad Lauer for Adam Creighton and Steve Thomas. He would finish fourth in Selke Trophy voting that season as the Hawks would lose in the Cup Finals to Pittsburgh. Sutter would play seven seasons with Chicago, retiring at the end of the 1997-98 season.

Over his 18 seasons career Sutter played 1,111 games, scoring 363 goals and 829 points. He holds the distinction of playing the most games and scoring the most points out of the six Sutter brothers to play in the NHL.

Shortly after retiring from the NHL he would become owner, president, head coach and general manager of the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL, winning a Memorial Cup in 2001 and guiding Team Canada to gold at the World Juniors in 2005 and 2006. From 2007 to 2009 he would coach the New Jersey Devils, and from 2009-2012 the Calgary Flames. After being fired from the Flames he would resume his role as coach and GM in Red Deer.

Brent’s son Brandon currently plays for the Vancouver Canucks and is arguably the most successful of the second generation Sutters.

YouTube clip: scoring OT winner in Game 4 of 1992 Norris Division final against Detroit.

Card 141 - Tomas Sandstrom

The right winger was drafted 36th overall by the New Rangers in the 1982 draft. Born in Finland, Sandstrom would play two seasons in the Swedish Elite League and represent Sweden internationally.

Making his pro debut in 1984-85, Sandstrom would score 29 goals and 58 points and be named to the all-rookie team. In each of his five full seasons in New York Sandstrom would score 20+ goals. In January 1990 he would be traded to Los Angeles alongside Tony Granato for sniper Bernie Nicholls. That season would prove to be his personal best, scoring 45 goals and 89 points, along with 106 penalty minutes. Sandstrom was a breaker of stereotypes, being a European power-forward, and he had the penalty minutes to prove it, recording 100+ penalty minutes in five seasons.

As part of the 1992-93 Kings team that went to the Cup Finals, Sandstrom would finish second on the team in playoff scoring, with 8 goals and 25 points.

Late in the 1994-95 season he would be traded to Pittsburgh alongside Shawn McEachern for Marty McSorley and Jim Paek. Starting in the 1990s Sandstrom’s career would be beset by injuries, all the more evident through the four seasons he spent with the Penguins, playing in only 172 games. In January 1997 he would be traded to Detroit for Greg Johnson. With the Red Wings he would play 34 regular season and 20 playoff games, enough to get his name on the Stanley Cup that season.

Sandstrom would spend his final two NHL seasons in Anaheim, playing 77 games (the second most for a season in his career) in 1997-98. He would play three seasons in Sweden before retiring from pro hockey after the 2001-02 season.

In 15 NHL seasons Sandstrom played in 983 games, scoring 394 goals and 856 points. He played in two all-star games (1988 and 1991) and scored 30+ goals five times. He is currently a firefighter in Sweden.

YouTube clip: getting cross-checked in the face by Dave Brown and suckerpunched by Glenn Anderson. These clips help explain why Sandstrom missed so much time due to injury.

Card 142 - Kevin Miller

The centre, who’s brother Kelly was featured previously, was drafted 202nd overall by the New York Rangers. Much like his brother he played four seasons with Michigan State, and split his first two pro seasons between the Rangers (40 games) and the IHL.

1990-91 was Miller’s first full pro seasons, playing 74 games split between the Rangers and Detroit, scoring 22 goals and 51 points. In March of that season he would be traded to Detroit with Jim Cummins and Dennis Vial in exchange for Joey Kocur and Per Djoos.

Miller would spend the 1991-92 season with Detroit before being traded one-for-one to Washington for Dino Ciccarelli in June 1992. He would manage 10 games with the Caps (alongside brother Kelly) before being traded to St. Louis for Paul Cavallini.

St. Louis would be Miller’s longest NHL stop, playing 162 games over parts of three seasons, scoring 20+ goals in his two full seasons as a Blue. In March 1995 he would be traded to San Jose for Todd Elik, and after just less than one calendar year as a Shark he would be traded to Pittsburgh. 1995-96 was Miller’s best season statistically, scoring 28 goals and 53 points.

His trade to Pittsburgh would be the last of his career, but he would continue to move franchise, playing from 1996-98 in Chicago, 1998-99 with the New York Islanders and 1999-2000 with Ottawa. Each of these stops would include increasing time spent in the IHL, including 63 games in 1999-2000.

From 2000-2003 Miller would play for Davos in Switzerland, leading the league in goals in 2000-01. In 2003-04 he would return to the NHL for four games with Detroit, and finish his career in 2004-05 with Flint in the UHL.

Over 13 seasons Miller played for 9 teams, scoring 150 goals and 335 points in 620 games. After retirement he would coach AAA Midget hockey in the US for a season.

More infamously, he was sued for a hit from behind he laid on former NHLer Andrew McKim during his time in the Swiss league, resulting in Miller being ordered to pay $1.6 million in insurance compensation.

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