The apple didn't fall from the tree. A chip of the old block. Like father, like son. All overused and common expressions used to describe athletes who follow in their father's footsteps, especially when those footsteps lead to being a professional athlete.
It's very common for professional athletes to have children who are able to make it to the professional leagues themselves and put their own fingerprints on the game. In every sport, there are hundreds of examples. There's the Griffey's in baseball, the Hull's in hockey, the Curry's in basketball and the Manning's in football. In all those cases, both father and son were terrific players, but that's not what we're going to be looking at here. On this list, we're gonna look at 15 players that took their good genes and went the extra mile, far surpassing what their fathers did in the NHL. Here are Top 15 NHL Players Who Were MUCH Better Than Their Fathers. Enjoy!
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15 Tyson Barrie
We'll start this list off with a young defender who has been highly impressive during his career thus far. Tyson Barrie was drafted in the third round back in 2009 by the Colorado Avalanche and since becoming a regular in 2012/13, he's been one of the best offensive defenseman in the league, totalling 153 points in 264 games. While the Avs don't have much else on the backend at the moment, they can rest easy knowing they have an elite powerplay quarterback.
Tyson's father, Len, played in the league for six seasons, only managing to get into 184 games. In that period, he managed 64 points and had 290 penalty minutes. While he was a solid grinder, he wasn't the difference maker that his son is.
14 Andre Burakovsky
Another young gun on our list, Andre Burakovsky has given some solid secondary scoring to the Washington Capitals over the last two years. A first round pick in 2013 by the team, Burakovsky had somewhat of a breakout year in 2015/16, notching 17 goals, despite playing on the second and third line for most of the year. If Washington is to finally make it over the hump and into the Finals, they need their talented youngsters, like Burakovsky, to provide offense while teams focus on The Great Eight, Alex Ovechkin.
Andre's father, Robert, didn't have a lengthy NHL career, which is why his son has surpassed him after only two years in the league. Robert played 23 games for the Ottawa Senators back in 1993/94, which was their second year as a team in the league. He was initially drafted in the 11th round (when that was still a thing) by the Rangers, but his rights were traded to the Nation's Capital. During that 1993/94 season, he spent a huge chunk of time in the AHL, scoring 67 points in 52 games. However, in the big leagues, he only managed 5 points in 23 games. He quickly left to return to play in Austria, where his son was born in 1995.
13 Sean Couturier
When Sean Couturier was drafted 8th overall in 2011 by the Flyers, they were hoping for a second top-end center to pair with Claude Giroux. While Couturier hasn't been an elite scorer during his five seasons in the league, never topping 39 points, he's still become a valuable piece for the Flyers and consistently receives votes for the Selke Trophy, which is given to the NHL's best defensive forward. Couturier is incredibly tough to play against and normally matches up with the opposing team's best players, which means he see a lot of Sidney Crosby in the Battle of Pennsylvania.
His father, Sylvain, was far less successful in the NHL, only managing 33 games in three seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, where he had 9 points and was a - 6. He spent some time with Phoenix Roadrunners in the IHL, which is where his son was born.
12 Taylor Pyatt
While Taylor Pyatt never lived up to his draft selection, as he was drafted 8th overall in 1999 by the New York Islanders, he did carve out a solid NHL career as a solid third liner who could help out offensively when called upon. He ended up playing 859 games in the NHL for six different teams, where he managed 280 points.
Taylor wasn't as good of a scorer as his father, but his longevity and ability in his own zone gives him the edge here. Nelson Pyatt played six seasons in the NHL and had two good goal scoring seasons, as he scored 26 goals in 1975/76 for Washington and 23 goals the next year for the Colorado Rockies. However, in that season for Washington, he was a -56 and was a -17 the season after for Colorado. His inability in his own zone cost him, as he was out of the league by 1979/80.
11 Ron Hextall
Ron Hextall was always a little bit insane between the pipes and you never really knew what he might do. But that's exactly what endeared him to fans in Philly. While many only remember Ron Hextall's antics, like when he decided to take a run at Chris Chelios, Hextall was also a terrific goaltender, who managed to win the Vezina and Calder Trophy in his rookie year. He also backstopped the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals that season, where they lost to the powerhouse Oilers of the 80s. Hextall finished his impressive career with a record of 242-172-58 and a GAA of 2.91.
Though Ron followed his father's steps by making into the NHL, he didn't choose the same position. Bryan Hextall was a forward during his time in the NHL, but he didn't make much of a mark. He played in 549 games, finishing up with 260 points and a -140 rating. Similar to Nelson Pyatt, he could score goals, but ended every season of his career with a negative rating.
10 Mike Walton
Though Mike Walton's best season came in the WHA, where he scored 117 points for the Minnesota Fighting Saints (weirdest team name ever), he was also a dependable scorer in the NHL as well. He played for five different teams during his NHL career, notching 201 goals and 448 points in 588 games, giving him a solid PPG ratio of 0.76. During that time, he also managed to win two Stanley Cups, one as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and one with the Boston Bruins. Since he played back in the '60s and '70s, many younger fans might not remember Walton. With that in mind, a comparable recent player would be someone like Marty St. Louis (though Walton wasn't as good), as Walton was only 5'10" but could still put the puck in the back of the net.
His father had a much less notable career with the Montreal Canadiens. Bobby Walton only managed four games with the Habs, with no stats to note for in those games.
9 Brad Lukowich
While no one would ever consider Brad Lukowich to be an elite defenseman, he was always a steady presence on the backend that coaches could depend on. That dependability led Lukowich to be a member of two Stanley Cup winning teams (Dallas in '99 and Tampa Bay in '04) and to last 13 years in the NHL. He'd finish with 113 points in 658 games and with a solid rating of +45.
While Brad didn't post sexy numbers, they were still much better than his father's stats. Bernie Lukowich only managed two seasons in the NHL, where he scored 28 points in 79 games at the right wing position. After failing with the Penguins and Blues, he moved on to the WHA, where he only lasted two seasons and scored a whopping 8 points.
8 Pat Riggin
Pat Riggin was a solid NHL goaltender who managed to spend nine seasons in the NHL. While he was never considered elite, he had some terrific seasons and even managed to be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy back in 1983/84, while finishing fourth the season after. In that 1983/84 season, he won the Jennings trophy with Al Jensen and was a second team All Star. He'd finish his NHL career with a record 153-120-52 and a GAA of 3.43.
His father was a goaltender like his son, but was far less impressive throughout his career. Dennis Riggin played two seasons in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings, but only managed to play in 18 games. His record in those games was 6-10-2 and he had a GAA of 3.12.
7 Brent Johnson
Similar to Pat Riggin, Brent Johnson was never an elite goalie, but would carve out a lengthy and successful career in the NHL. Mostly used as a backup, Johnson lasted 12 years in the league and could always be relied upon to give solid goaltending in a pinch. Also, if he needed to dish out a beating, he wasn't scared to do it; just ask Rick DiPietro.
If this was a list comparing grandfathers and grandsons, Johnson would not be here, as his father is the legendary Sid Abel. However, Brent still manages to surpass his father, Bob Johnson, who played two seasons in the NHL as a goalie, compiling a poor record of 9-9-1, with a GAA of 3.74. He'd then move on to the WHA, where he'd play a single season and put up worse numbers. He'd never make it back to a professional league.
6 Alan Haworth
Alan Haworth was an underrated scorer in the 1980s, notching seven consecutive 20 goals seasons and even hitting 34 goals in 1985/86. He was only in the league for eight years, splitting his time between the Capitals, Sabres and Nordiques, but he filled the net when given a chance. In 524 careers games, he notched 189 goals and 400 points. After he was out of the league, he took his skills to Switzerland, where he continued to score goals for FC Bern.
There's a lot less to say about his father, Gord Haworth. He played back in 1952/53 for the New York Ranges and managed to get into a grand total of two games. In those two games, he had one assist, which obviously wasn't enough to impress Bill Cook, the Rangers' coach at the time.
5 Fleming MacKell
Similar to other entries on this list, Fleming MacKell wasn't an all-time great, but was a solid NHLer who surpassed his father's accomplishments. MacKell played back in the '40s and '50s for the Leafs and Bruins, making life hard for his family back in Montreal. He made the All Star game in 1952/53, when he managed 27 goals in 65 games for the Big Bad Bruins. He'd also manage to win two Stanley Cups, both coming with the Leafs, and was an integral part of both of those runs. He'd finish his NHL career in 1960 with 149 goals and 369 points in 665 games.
His father played with the Ottawa Senators, well before they were an expansion team in the early '90s. Jack MacKell played in the Nation's Capital from 1919-1921, scoring four goals and six points in 45 NHL games. He was good at one thing though, which was going to the penalty box, as he was in the sin bin for a grand total of 59 minutes.
4 Dustin Byfuglien
This one is a bit of a stretch as we're discussing a stepfather and his stepson, but Dustin Byfuglien is too interesting a player to ignore and he met him when he was 13, which was early in his development as a hockey star.
Dustin Byfuglien is a jack of all trades in the NHL, as he's excelled as a forward and defenseman during his 11 years in the NHL with the Blackhawks and Jets (he spent one year as a Thrasher before they moved to Winnipeg). He was a massive part of the Blackhawks first Stanley Cup win of their current dynasty, scoring 16 points in 22 games as a forward. They traded him after that win due to salary cap issues and he's become an integral part of the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise as a defenseman, recently signing a massive extension to continue patrolling their blue line.
His stepfather wasn't as good. Dale Smedsmo only played four games in the NHL, where he managed no stats other than two shots on goal. He did manage to play 110 games in the WHA, but wasn't much better, scoring 32 points and a -18 rating.
3 John Cullen
John Cullen was an exceptional scorer at the start of his career who unfortunately had some bad luck. In his second year, he scored 32 goals for the Pens and seemed to be the perfect compliment to Mario Lemieux. Then, in his third year, he was traded in a package deal to the Hartford Whalers that involved Ron Francis. However, the Pens won their first of two back to back Stanley Cups that season and Cullen missed out on the festivities. Cullen wouldn't score as much with the Hartford Whalers, but was still a productive player when healthy, which unluckily wasn't as often as he hoped. He then had a cancer scare towards the end of his career, but bravely beat it and came back to play in four games for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
His father, Barry, managed five seasons in the league in the '50s, but did nothing of note. His best season came with the Leafs in 1957/58, when he scored 16 goals in 70 games. Over the course of his entire career, he managed 32 goals in 219 games, while spending 111 minutes in the penalty box.
2 Max Domi
We might be getting ahead of ourselves, but we believe that Max Domi is already a better player than his father. Max has only played one season in the league, but has proven himself to be a key building block for surging Arizona Coyotes. In 81 games, Max had 18 goals and 52 points in 2015/16, giving fans a small glimpse of his vast potential. He finished sixth in Calder Voting, though we believe he would've got a lot more love if he played in a more prominent market.
His father, Tie Domi, certainly had his place in the league, though even he'd admit that his son has more talent than him. Tie was never the guy to lead his team in points, but made it a point to lead them in penalty minutes. He even led the league in PIMs in 1993/94 as a member of the Jets, when he spend 347 minutes in the sin bin. He'd play 1,020 games in the NHL, managing 104 goals and 245 points. Tie Domi will always be loved, but Max is the better player.
1 Ted Lindsay
Ted Lindsay is one of the best players in NHL history, making it incredibly clear that he surpassed his father. Terrible Ted was a member of the Production Line, with Sid Abel and Gordie Howe, that helped the Red Wings dominated the NHL in the '50s. Lindsay was elite at his best, making several All Star games and winning the Art Ross trophy in 1949/50, when he scored 78 points in 69 games. If you think that Terrible Ted was just a skill guy, you'd be wrong, as he earned the 'terrible' part of his nickname by being a man you did not want to mess with. He even led to the league in PIMs in 1958/59 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks with 184 penalty minutes.
His father had a much less interesting career in the 1910s. Bert Lindsay was a goalie for the Montreal Wanderers and Toronto Arenas, where he put together a record of 6-12 and had a terrible GAA of 5.72. Of all the entries on this list, this one was by far the most obvious as the son was a legend and the father was an afterthought.
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