So you know the whole “talent runs in the family” thing? That’s not necessarily true when it comes to pro hockey players. We mean, yeah, all these guys made it to the NHL, which is a lot more than we here at TheSportster can say, but somewhere along the line, half the brothers on this list figured out what it took to be a great player in the world’s best hockey league, while the others crashed and burned like the jealous, siblings they (probably) were.
It’s quite the juxtaposition when you consider, say, the three hockey-playing Gretzky brothers. How did this trio of siblings, who grew up in the same hockey-crazed environment and who had similar resources all along the way, end up with such a massive disparity between them when it came to on-ice talent? Maybe it was a dedication thing or a surplus of passion on Wayne’s part. Who knows? I guess they can’t all be the Sedin twins.
Believe it or not, elite hockey skills aren’t necessarily hereditary, as you’ll see in the following list of eight NHL bros who were far better than their siblings and seven who had no business ever stepping skate on the ice in the first place.
15 Better: Scott Stevens
Love him or hate him, one thing that can’t be denied is that former NHL defenseman and renowned tough-guy Scott Stevens, who racked up three Cup titles, five All-Star appearances and Hall-of-Fame credentials, was a far superior player than his younger brother, Mike, whom the Vancouver Canucks selected in the third round (58th overall) in the 1984 draft.
While Scott was tearing it up for over 22 seasons in the NHL, Mike was laboring away in the minor leagues and Europe, only managing to crack an NHL lineup 23 times over four seasons with four separate teams. Playing on the wing, Mike was only ever able to eke out one lone goal and registered four assists while spending 29 minutes in the box during those four brief stints in the league.
14 Worse: Don Cherry
As if the overly flamboyant (and often obnoxious) suits and bewildering hockey commentary weren’t enough, Don Cherry wasn’t even the best NHL player in his family. Though he’s a Canadian national treasure and an icon for the ages, his single NHL game – a playoff contest with the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens in 1955 – pales in comparison to his younger brother, Dick’s, much more lengthy, although still pedestrian, 145 career NHL games, played between 1957 and 1969.
With no NHL stats to speak of, Cherry was the inferior sibling in this case, despite Dick’s underwhelming 22 career regular-season points and single playoff goal. Both brothers had respectable minor-league runs, but with his legacy as a broadcaster as tangible evidence, Cherry is better at calling the plays, rather than on the ice making them.
13 Better: Jamie Benn
OK, yeah, the whole storyline about how great it was that the Benn brothers were playing on the same NHL team was neat and heartwarming and all, but you’ve almost got to feel bad for Jordie. Even though he’s the older, more experienced sibling, his younger brother, Jamie, is obviously the better player.
Jamie basically went straight from junior to the NHL, and since turning pro in 2009, is scoring at almost a point-per-game clip. Heck, he’s even the captain of the Stars.
Jordie, on the other hand, took a more roundabout path to the league. He went undrafted out of the BCHL and toured the minor-league circuit for four years, before finally making his NHL debut in 2012 at age 25, three years after his kid bro did the same thing at age 20.
12 Worse: Sean Pronger
Big, bad, bruising Hall-of-Fame NHL defenseman Chris Pronger was a four-time All-Star a 2007 Stanley Cup champ with the Anaheim Ducks and won the 2000 Hart Memorial and Norris Memorial Trophies. He played 18 spectacular seasons in the league and scored nearly 700 points in 1,167 career regular-season games.
And like Jamie Benn, Pronger had an older brother who was nowhere near as good as he was. In 1991, before Chris had even started his junior career, his brother, Sean, was drafted 51st overall by the Vancouver Canucks. Unlike Chris, Sean struggled to compete at the NHL level, and in 12 seasons as a pro, suited up for 16 different teams in five leagues in three countries, only scoring 59 total points in 260 NHL contests.
11 Better: Claude Lemieux
Jocelyn Lemieux bested his older brother, Claude, by going tenth overall to the St. Louis Blues in the 1986 draft, but that’s where his bragging rights promptly come to an end. Jocelyn spent parts of 12 seasons in the NHL with the Blues, Canadiens, Blackhawks, Whalers, Devils, Flames and Coyotes between 1986 and 1998 but registered a modest 164 points in 598 games before ending his pro career with two seasons in the minor leagues.
Claude, though, became one of the most successful and pesky players in the league, winning four Stanley Cups with three different teams and claiming the 1995 Conn Smythe Trophy while scoring 786 points in 1,215 career games over an illustrious 21-season NHL career. Advantage Claude, a likely future Hall-of-Famer, hands down.
10 Worse: Brett Lindros
So we’ve covered the fact that hockey "badassery" doesn’t necessarily run in the family, but one thing that apparently does run in the Lindros household is concussions – like, the career-ending variety. So is the case with both Hall-of-Fame forward Eric Lindros and his younger brother, Brett.
Eric, as we all know, did some pretty great things before – and even in the midst of – his debilitating concussions. He was a two-time All-Star, led the league in scoring in 1994-95 and somehow managed to rack up 865 points in just 760 games despite his numerous head injuries.
Brett, despite also being a first-round draftee – and even considering his own bad head injuries – wasn’t very good. In his 51 NHL games, he scored just seven points but rang up a whopping 147 penalty minutes. Maybe hockey wasn’t the best plan there, Brett.
9 Better: Marcel Dionne
Honestly, despite his relatively short six-season stint in the NHL, Gilbert Dionne wasn’t a particularly terrible player. A fourth-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens, Gilbert really only played two full seasons in the league, but he scored 140 points in 223 career games, which is well over half a point per game.
Here’s the thing, though. His older brother, Marcel, who is 19 years his senior, spent 18 years between 1971 and 1989, scoring goals at a clip that today ranks him fifth all-time on the NHL scoring list with 731. He’s also sixth all-time in points with 1,771. That, folks spells one of the most prolific pro hockey careers in the history of the game, so Gilbert’s decent – if not short – run in the league becomes sort of irrelevant.
8 Worse: Paul Messier
Again, when your brother is one of the greatest hockey players ever to lace up a pair of skates, even a moderately good showing in the NHL will get lost in the glory of your more highly talented sibling’s fame. In Paul Messier’s case, however, his NHL career was neither good nor moderately good. In reality it was basically non-existent.
After a two successful seasons at the University of Denver, Paul was drafted 41st overall by the hometown Colorado Rockies in 1978. He made his NHL debut later that season, but his NHL days lasted just nine games, in which he recorded four penalty minutes and a -6 plus/minus rating.
He finally became a decent skater and point-getter later in the minor leagues and in Europe, but he was not cut out for the NHL, while his younger brother, Mark, is third on the all-time points list with 1,887.
7 Better: Henrik Lundqvist
On paper – and before either of them made it to the NHL – you’d assume that Joel was the better of the Swedish Lundqvist twins. NHL scouts felt the same way, so Joel, a forward, was selected in the third round by the Dallas Stars in the 2000 draft, a full 137 spots earlier than his goaltender brother, Henrik.
As it turns out, Henrik would make his NHL debut a year before his brother when he went 30-12-9 for the New York Rangers in 2005-06, and the rest is pretty much history. Henrik has gone on to become "The King" of the Big Apple with a career 405-249-76 record along with a 2.32 GAA, a .920 save percentage, two All-Star nominations and the 2012 Vezina Trophy.
Meanwhile, Joel only lasted parts of three seasons in Dallas, appearing in 134 games and notching 26 points before heading back to his native Sweden in 2009.
6 Worse: Fedor Fedorov
After seeing what his big brother did in the league between 1990 and 2009, the Canucks must have been licking their chops when they took Fedor Fedorov with the 66th pick in the 2001 draft. He put up big numbers in junior, and he was related to the great Sergei Fedorov, so picking him up in the third round felt like a steal.
How wrong they were. Fedor made his NHL debut with the Canucks with a seven-game stint during the 2002-03 season but was quickly sent back down to the minors for lack of offensive production. A similar thing happened the following year.
Both the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils gave him a shot at a roster spot later on, but he jetted back off to Russia in 2006 after posting just two assists in 18 NHL contests.
5 Better: Marian Hossa
Despite both becoming first-round draft picks after suiting up for Portland of the WHL, Slovakian brothers Marcel and Marian Hossa ended up with two very different NHL careers.
While Marian is currently nearing the twilight of his highly decorated and Hall-of-Fame-worthy run in the NHL that started in 1998 with the Ottawa Senators and boasts well over 1,100 points, three Stanley Cups and an All-Star nomination, his younger brother, Marcel, has already seen the last of his NHL days after playing in parts of just six seasons between 2002 and 2008 while bouncing back and forth from the minor leagues.
Though he was a 16th overall draft pick in 2000, Marcel disappointed with just 61 points in 237 career NHL games and has been playing in Europe since the Arizona Coyotes declined to re-sign him after the 2007-08 season.
4 Worse: Malcolm Subban
Did you even realize Nashville Predators star defenseman P.K. Subban had a younger brother? Next question: Did you even realize that P.K. Subban’s younger brother, Malcolm, a goaltender in the Boston Bruins organization, was a much higher draft pick in 2012 than P.K. was in 2007?
If you answered no to one or both of those questions, it’s because Malcolm is nowhere near as talented as his older, more successful, Western Conference-champion brother.
Malcolm was selected by the Bruins in the first round (24th overall) five years ago in 2012 after three relatively successful junior seasons with OHL Belleville. Since making his pro debut during the 2013-14 season with AHL Providence, Malcolm has only made two NHL appearances, posting a 0-2 record with a miserable 5.81 GAA and 0.727 save percentage.
3 Better: Paul Kariya
Right now, somewhere in the world, 39-year-old Steve Kariya is looking back on his pro hockey days and reminiscing on the 65 games he played with his hometown Vancouver Canucks between 1999 and 2001, during which he scored all of 27 points, while his 42-year-old elder brother is busy being elected into the vaunted Hockey Hall of Fame in recognition of his wildly successful 15-season, 989-point NHL career.
Yes, even though he struggled with several concussions and drawn-out bouts with their adverse effects on his body, the speedy, smallish Paul far outshined his brother by putting together an impressive point-per-game career over 15 years and with four separate teams between 1994 and 2010. He was a five-time All-Star, a two-time Lady Byng Memorial Trophy-winner and finished in the top-ten in scoring on four separate occasions.
2 Worse: Brent Gretzky
You can look at the two Gretzky brothers who played in the NHL two different ways. The first is that, together, they have the most combined points of any sibling duo in the history of the NHL. That sounds pretty legit, right?
The other – and probably the more accepted version of Brent and Wayne Gretzky’s lasting legacy – is that Wayne became the single greatest player in the history of the game and has over 900 points more than the next closest scorer. Meanwhile, his kid brother, Brent, had no business in the league and only registered a measly four points in 13 appearances with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the mid-90s. Your pick.
Our judgement, however, is that even if Wayne hadn’t become the GOAT, Brent never should have even bothered trying.
1 Better: Gordie Howe
Speaking of greatest of all time, that honor belonged for a long time to the late, great forward out of Floral, Saskatchewan, Gordie Howe. Made famous by his gritty play, scoring prowess and longevity in the league, Howe, better known as “Mr. Hockey,” was a four-time Cup winner, a 21-time All-Star and a six-time winner of both the Hart Memorial and Art Ross Trophies. His name was synonymous with Detroit, where he played for the Red Wings in parts of four decades, leading the league in scoring six different times.
Then, there was his brother, Vic. Like Brent Gretzky, Vic didn’t exactly follow in his older brother’s footsteps. He appeared in just 33 games over three seasons with the New York Rangers in the ‘50s and registered seven lowly points. Clearly, Gordie was better.