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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Hard to follow sibling acts

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Being a sibling can be hard, or so I am told as an only child. I’ve heard there are constant comparisons, both real and imagined, between siblings. I can imagine that this is exaggerated if one sibling experiences a degree of outsized success compared to their family members.

People who play in the NHL are like the rest of us, for the most part, so I wanted to see what sibling relationships are like in cases where one sibling has a significantly larger degree of success. Below are six interesting cases where NHL career success doesn’t run in the family:

  • The Gretzkys. Wayne is easily the best player in NHL history, so no brother could live up to that standard. Brent played in 13 NHL games with Tampa Bay, scoring a goal and four points. He did carve out a lengthy career in the IHL and UHL, where he was a prolific scorer. Third brother Keith never played in the NHL, playing six minor pro seasons in the IHL and AHL.

  • The Sakics. Joe won two Stanley Cups, scored over 600 goals and 1600 points, and won the Hart and Pearson Trophies in 2001. Brother Brian would never see the NHL, but became a cult player with Flint in the UHL (more details in post below).

  • The Lemieuxs. Super Mario spent the 80s and 90s battling with Gretzky for the title of best player in the NHL, winning two Cups with the Penguins, 6 Art Ross, 3 Harts and 2 Conn Smythe Trophies. Brother Alain played 119 games over six seasons, including six seasons in the Penguins organization from 1981 to 1987. Alain scored 28 goals and 72 points in his NHL career, also playing in the AHL, IHL and Finland.

  • The Roys. Goalie Patrick won 551 games, four Stanley Cups, three Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophies and is arguably the greatest goalie of all-time. Brother Stephane played 12 games with the Minnesota North Stars in 1987-88, scoring one goal. Stephane played with the Canadian National Team for three years and played in North America lower-tier leagues until the early 2000s.

  • The Lindroses. Eric was the heir apparent to Wayne Gretzky, winning the Hart and Pearson in 1995. His career was derailed by concussions, but he still scored over 300 goals and 800 points and is in the Hall of Fame. Brother Brett played 51 games over two seasons, scoring two goals and seven points before his career was also ended due to concussions.

  • The Messiers. Mark won six Stanley Cups, two Hart and Pearson Trophies and is third all-time in career assists and points. Brother Paul played nine games with Cleveland in 1978-79, playing in the CHL and AHL until 1983 then spent almost a decade playing pro in Germany.

459 - Len Barrie

A centre, Barrie was drafted 124th overall by Edmonton in 1988. He played two more seasons with Kamloops, scoring 85 goals and 185 points in 70 games during the 1989-90 season. Barrie was the leading scorer in the CHL that season, as well as the leading playoff scorer in the WHL.

Barrie would never suit up for the Oilers, signing with Philadelphia in February 1990 and playing his first NHL game later that season. The majority of his first three pro seasons were spent with Hershey in the AHL, save eight games with the Flyers in 1992-93, scoring two goals and four points.

1993-94 saw Barrie sign with Florida, playing two games in the NHL while playing in the IHL with Cincinnati, where he was named a second team all-star. The following season he joined Pittsburgh, scoring 14 points in 48 games. From 1995 to 1997 Barrie played in the IHL, then spent three seasons playing in Germany. He returned to the NHL in 1999-2000 with Los Angeles, and was claimed off waivers by Florida in March of that season. Between the two teams Barrie scored nine goals and 23 points, all career-highs. The following season he matched his points and games totals with Florida in what would be his final pro season.

In seven NHL seasons Barrie played in 184 games, scoring 19 goals and 64 points. He stayed active in the hockey scene following retirement as the owner and president of the Victoria Grizzlies in the BCHL from 2006 to 2012. In 2009-10 he briefly became a co-owner of the Tampa Bay Lighting with Jeff Vinik, but internal issues in their ownership group led to a quick sale of the team. Barrie has also been involved in controversial real estate and resort development in BC. His son Tyson currently plays in the NHL with Nashville.

YouTube clip: fighting Bryan McCabe of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The two had a previous dust up where Barrie sucker-punched McCabe and was suspended two games.

460 - Felix Potvin

A goalie, Potvin was drafted 31st overall by Toronto in 1990. In the season following the draft Potvin won CHL and QMJHL goalie of the year, was named the best goalie and a tournament all-star at the Memorial Cup and best defensive player, playoff MVP and a first team all-star in the QMJHL. Turning pro he continued to add to his trophy case, winning best goalie and rookie of the year in the AHL, while also earning a first team all-star selection as he won 35 games with St. John’s.

After appearing in four games with the Leafs in 1991-92, Potvin joined the team full-time the next season, playing in 48 games, winning 25 and leading the league with a 2.50 goals against average. He was named to the all-rookie team and finished third in Calder and fourth in Vezina voting. After usurping Grant Fuhr as the team’s starter during the regular season, Potvin went on to lead the playoffs in minutes and games played as the Leafs made it to the Campbell Conference Finals.

Potvin’s next five seasons in Toronto would be marked by heroic efforts on a declining team. In 1993-94 he won 34 games (a career-high), and would play in 66 games or more games in four of the five seasons. In 1996-97 he led the league in minutes, shots against, saves, goals against and losses.

After the Leafs missed the playoffs two years in a row, Potvin was dealt to the New York Islanders in January 1999 for Bryan Berard and a swap of sixth-round draft picks. After 33 games and less than a year on Long Island, he was on the move again, going to Vancouver in December with two draft picks for Bill Muckalt, Dave Scatchard and Kevin Weekes. Over two seasons with the Canucks Potvin won 26 games in 59 appearances before a February 2001 trade to Los Angeles.

Finishing the 2000-01 season strong with 13 wins in 23 games for the Kings, he helped orchestrate an upset of Detroit in the Western Conference Quarter-Finals and took eventual champions Colorado to seven games in the Conference Semi-Finals. The following season Potvin played in 71 games, his most since 1996-97, winning 31 games. He played his final pro season in 2003-04 with Boston, posting a 12-8-6 record in 28 games.

In 13 NHL seasons, the Cat posted a 266-260-85 record, .905 save percentage and 2.76 goals against average. He played in two all-star games (1994 and 1996) and ranks tops 50 all-time in losses, shots against, minutes and saves. From 2007 to 2021 he was a coach for Magog in Quebec AAA youth hockey.

YouTube clips: making a diving save in Game 2 of 1994 Western Conference Quarter-Finals against Chicago. Known for his acrobatic saves, Potvin also had four career fights (two NHL, two QMJHL). His most famous fight was with Ron Hextall, but his scrap from the 1993 playoffs with Dino Ciccarelli is also a good one (but not technically a fight).

461 - Brian Sakic

A centre, Sakic was drafted 93rd overall by Washington in 1990. The brother of Joe Sakic, Brian scored 40 goals and 162 points with Tri-City in the WHL the year following the draft, earning a first team all-star selection.

Sakic turned pro in 1992-93 with Erie of the ECHL, then joined Flint in the Colonial League the following season. In three seasons with Flint he scored 96 or more points each season, then briefly joined Austin of the Western Professional Hockey League 1996-97. Sakic returned to Flint during that season, and played two additional seasons, scoring 120 and 108 points respectively. During his career with Flint he scored 628 points in 396 games, and is the franchise’s all-time leader in assists, second in points and fifth in games played.

Sakic last appeared in the news as part of a 2022 CBC news story about sexual assault in junior hockey, specifically the handling of allegations that he and a teammate were involved in a sexual assault in 1989.

462 - Viacheslav Kozlov

A left winger, Kozlov was drafted 45th overall by Detroit in 1990. He had played pro hockey in Russia since the age of 16, and came to North America for the 1991-92 season, playing seven games for the Red Wings that season. His NHL debut came following a car accident in October 1991 in which his passenger was killed and Kozlov suffered massive head/brain injuries. The following season Kozlov played primarily with Adirondack in the AHL, appearing in 17 games with Detroit. His NHL breakthrough game in 1993-94, playing in 77 games with the Wings, scoring 34 goals and 73 points.

The following season Kozlov continued his emergence, leading the Wings with nine goals during the 1995 playoffs as Detroit were swept in the Finals by New Jersey. During the 1995-96 season he scored a career-high 36 goals and equaled his previous career high of 73 points. As part of Detroit’s Russian Five, Kozlov won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998, recording 13 and 14 points in each playoff season. The late 1990s saw his statistics begin to decline, and in July 2001 he was traded to Buffalo with a first round pick for Dominik Hasek.

Kozlov played one season with the Sabres, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 38 games before a trade to Atlanta in summer 2002. He recovered his game with the Thrashers, playing alongside countrymen Ilya Kovalchuk, scoring 21 goals and 70 points in his first season. Over the next six seasons Kozlov scored 20+ goals four times, and 70+ points three times, including a career-high 80 points in 2006-07 at the age of 34.

Kozlov left the NHL after the 2009-10 season to play in Russia, where he played five seasons, winning back-to-back Gagarin Cups in 2011 and 2012 before retiring after 2014-15 season. In 18 NHL seasons, Kozlov played in 1182 games, scoring 356 goals and 853 points. He currently sits top 10 all-time amongst Russian born NHLers in games played, goals, assists and points. In retirement he has coached in Russia, currently as an assistant with Dynamo Moscow.

YouTube clip: scoring four goals in the infamous December 1995 game in which Detroit beat Montreal 11-1. This would prove to be Patrick Roy’s last game with the Habs.

463 - Matt DelGuidice

A goaltender, DelGuidice was drafted 77th overall by Boston in 1987 out of St. Anselm College. The season following the draft he transferred to Maine, where he played the next two seasons, winning back-to-back Hockey East titles with the Black Bears.

DelGuidice turned pro in 1990-91 with Maine of the AHL, winning 23 games in his first season. He also appeared in his first NHL game that season, making seven saves in a 10 minute relief appearance. In 1991-92 he shared backup duties to Andy Moog with veteran Reggie Lemelin and fellow prospect Daniel Berthiaume, playing in 10 games, sporting a 2-5-1 record and 3.96 goals against.

1992-93 he played sparingly in the AHL and IHL, landing in the ECHL for a few seasons beginning in 1993-94. During the 1993-94 season he led the ECHL with a 2.95 goals against average, winning 18 games with the Raleigh IceCaps. In the late 1990s DelGuidice played in the WPHL with Amarillo, Monroe, and Corpus Christi, retiring after the 1998-99 season.

In 2 NHL seasons DelGuidice played in 11 games, recording a 2-5-1 record, 3.87 goals against average and .886 save percentage. For having such a short NHL career, he boasts a surprisingly detailed Wikipedia page.

465 - Norm Foster

A goalie, Foster was drafted 222nd overall by Boston in the 1983 draft out of Penticton in the BCHL. He then played four seasons at Michigan State, being named to the NCAA championship tournament all-star team in 1986 and winning a gold medal with Canada at the 1985 world junior championship.

Foster turned pro in 1987-88 with Milwaukee in the IHL, then joined Maine in the AHL for two seasons. During the 1989-90 season he played in 64 games, posting a 23-28-10 record. The following seasons he played in his first three NHL games with Boston, winning two of them despite giving up 14 goals over his three appearances.

Early in the 1991-92 season Foster was traded to Edmonton for a draft pick. Sharing time with Peter Ing as Bill Ranford’s backup, he played in 10 games, winning five and posting a 2.73 goals against average. After a full season in the minors with Cape Breton and Kansas City, Foster signed with Philadelphia in 1993, playing with Hershey in the AHL. Foster’s final pro season came in 1994-95, playing in the IHL and Colonial League.

In two NHL seasons, Foster played in 13 games, posting a winning record of 7-4-0, with a 3.27 goals against average and .872 save percentage. From 2001 to 2004 he was the goalie coach for Oakland University in Michigan.

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