I feel bad already talking about such a touchy subject. I mean, everyone who has a sibling knows what it’s like to compete with them over everything, and to have to compare yourself to them after is the worst. Most of us get to keep our healthy sibling competition to ourselves and our families, but some people have every detail of their careers available and open to the public.
In the NHL for example there have been countless examples of siblings playing in the league at the same time. Their competition is often covered by the media and inspected closely by people. Some siblings in the NHL are lucky enough to have enjoyed storied careers; the Niedermayers, the Sedins, the Richards and the Espositos to name a few. But some players aren’t so lucky.
Some players will forever remain in their brother’s shadow of a career. And that’s okay. I’m sure they’re better at doing something else. But still, to try and imagine myself in any one of these lesser sibling’s shoes is just depressing. Here are the top 15 NHL players that are much better than their siblings.
15 Ryan Miller (Brother, Drew)
Ryan Miller used to be a really good goalie, especially during his time in Buffalo where he made a name for himself as a serious netminder, but his play has recently suffered in Vancouver, and he doesn’t really seem like his old self. His recent performance is disappointing compared to what he used to be, especially for me since I’ve been unlucky enough to have him in my pool for two years now, hoping against hope that he regains his old form.
Still, the American was a Vezina Trophy winner in 2010 and a two-time Olympian with the United States. He continues to enjoy a starting role in the NHL although it could potentially be put into question this season.
Drew Miller is currently making a name for himself in the NHL as a hardworking defensive winger with the Detroit Red Wings. He was drafted 186th overall by the Ducks and bounced around the minors and the NHL for a little before finding himself a permanent position with the Red Wings. He’s actually the tenth member of his family to make to the NHL. Not bad, Millers.
14 Marian (Brother, Marcel)
Brothers Marian and Marcel Hossa are hard to tell apart; both are blond with similar, weird, bird-like features. But they are easy to tell apart when they’re on the ice. Marian Hossa continues to enjoy a great NHL career, including making the Stanley Cup Final three years straight, each time with a different team, and finally winning it the third time. He would win it another two times after that with the Blackhawks. The right wing Slovakian has always been known as a sniper, and he has 499 NHL goals thus far to show for it, with 1,089 total points.
Marcel Hossa has not enjoyed the same success as his brother, playing only 237 games in the NHL and earning just 61 points. Drafted just three years after his brother in the first round by the Canadiens, he never really seemed to gain full stride in the NHL and currently plays his hockey overseas.
13 Henrik Lundqvist (Brother, Joel)
The only players on this list to be twins, these two were never on the same level of equality as the Sedins. Henrik is an all-star goalie nicknamed “The King” and currently plays his hockey on Broadway, not to mention he may possibly have the best hair in the NHL. The 2012 Vezina winner shows no signs of slowing down, his quickness and athleticism just getting better as he gets older. On December 12, 2006, he became the first NHL goaltender to face his twin brother, Joel.
Joel Lundqvist currently plays his hockey in his native Sweden, although he did play 134 games in the NHL with the Dallas Stars over two seasons, recording seven goals in the process. The two brothers are only the third set of twins to play each other in NHL history.
12 Scott Stevens (Brother, Mike)
Scott Stevens, selected fifth overall by the Capitals, was a particularly punishing and effective NHL defenseman for 22 years in the league. If you don’t know what I mean by punishing, google Scott’s biggest hits and you’ll think punishing isn’t a strong enough word. Stevens was particularly respected as a leader, leading the Devils to three Stanley Cups and earning himself the 2000 Conn Smythe. His career tragically came to an end after he received a slap shot to the head and experienced post-concussion syndrome. He would also be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
Older brother Scott cast quite a shadow on younger brother Mike. He was selected 58th overall by the Vancouver Canucks, although always struggled to adapt to the NHL level. That being the case, he would only appear in 23 NHL games, recording just one goal and one assist. He enjoyed some success in the minors later on and played some hockey in Europe before disappearing into the depths of hockey history.
11 Chris Pronger (Brother, Sean)
Doesn’t it suck when your younger brother is outlandishly better at something? Well that was the case between Chis and Sean Pronger. Chris, the younger of the two, enjoyed a hell of a career as a defenseman, and although he’s still under contract with the Arizona Coyotes, he’s never expected to play again because of severe post-concussion syndrome.
While he was in the NHL, Pronger wasn’t someone you wanted to mess with. At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Pronger was a beast and also one of the dirtiest players in the league, having been suspended eight times during his career. Pronger was the first defenseman to win the Hart Trophy (in the 1999-00 season) since Bobby Orr achieved that in 1972. He’s also made three Stanley Cup Final appearances, winning it once with Anaheim in 2007.
Brother Sean Pronger obviously did not enjoy the same successes. He would play 260 NHL games with seven different teams, the centre never getting the chance to stay somewhere long term, constantly on the move because of trades or lack of contract extensions.
10 Jamie Benn (Brother, Jordie)
Jamie Benn burst onto the scene in 2009-10 for the Dallas Stars after they drafted him in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. Today, Benn is one of Dallas’ best players, winning the Art Ross trophy with the team and serving as captain for the past two seasons. In all definitions of the word, Jamie Benn is a beast, as physical as he is quick and skillful.
His brother Jordie is the opposite, a hard-working defenseman that earned himself a depth defenseman position with the Dallas Stars. Two years older than Jamie, big brother Benn made his debut for the Stars in 2012, and has been with the team ever since, and has just recently signed with the Stars for three more years. Looks like the Benn connection will keep on going.
9 Marcel Dionne (Brother, Gilbert)
Marcel Dionne is another hockey Hall of Famer that had a storied career in the NHL. In 1,348 games split between the Red Wings, the Kings, and finally the Rangers, he earned 1,771 points. His NHL career started with a bang, setting a record in 1972 for most points by a player in his rookie season (77 points). Of course that record has been beaten since then, but that still speaks volumes to the type of career he had. He currently ranks fifth among all-time goal scorers with 731 goals.
Gilbert on the other hand was drafted 81st by the bleu-blanc-rouge and enjoyed six seasons in the NHL, playing 223 NHL games in that span, earning 140 points in the process. Not bad numbers for the winger, although they pale in comparison to his brother. There is one thing Gilbert did that his brother didn’t though, and that’s lift the Stanley Cup, an honor Gilbert got in 1993 with the Canadiens.
8 Ken Dryden (Brother, Dave)
We know Ken Dryden as the legendary Canadiens goalie, and it’s a shame that his brother had to pick the exact same position considering how much better Ken was. The two do share one interesting NHL memory however, that of being the only two brothers to face each other as goalies in NHL history, in a game between Buffalo and Montreal (Montreal won 5-2).
Interestingly enough Dave made the history books for being the first person to create and employ the modern day goaltending mask consisting of a fiberglass mask with a cage. He’s also the goalie Gretzky scored his first professional goal against, and that’s pretty special.
Ken Dryden is a Hall of Famer, whose career lasted just over seven seasons; rare for a goalie of his stature. His seven seasons however were nothing short of incredible. He would win the Vezina Trophy five times, and remains to this day the first ever person to win the Conn Smythe before winning rookie of the year award.
7 Paul Kariya (Brother, Steve)
If I had to name one NHL player whose style resembled Gretzky’s the most, I would have to go with Paul Kariya. His hockey sense was outstanding, his vision was incredible, and he brought a cerebral approach to the game. Not to mention he was extremely skilled and powerful, with amazing passing abilities. Coaches have praised Kariya as extremely hard-working as well, and former Winnipeg Jets head coach John Paddock once said that “like Gretzky, the puck seems to follow him around…”
His speed made him particularly useful for the international team, where he would also enjoy a lot of success over the course of his career. To sum up, it would be a great idea to want Paul Kariya on your team.
Steve Kariya on the other would probably be the last player you would choose. His NHL career remains a small sample size of 65 games, in which the winger got 27 points with the Vancouver Canucks. He played some hockey in Europe as well, and currently sits as an assistant coach for the Portland Winterhawks.
6 Patrick Roy (Brother, Stephane)
These two represent another drastic difference in talent from brother to brother. Patrick Roy was a goalie, winner of four Stanley Cups, two with each team he was a legend for, the Canadiens and the Avalanche. In 2004, in a panel led by 41 writers, Roy was selected as the best goalie in NHL history, and let’s be honest, he has the numbers to back them up. Not to mention he remains to this day the only player to have the Conn Smythe (the award given to the most valuable player in the playoffs) three different times with two teams and in three different decades.
To sum up, Roy was a big time player and played that way his entire career.
Stephane Roy basically doesn’t have an NHL career, his only experience in the league being 12 games with the Minnesota North Stars, where he would score just one NHL goal.
5 Sergei Fedorov (Brother, Fedor)
Fedor Fedorov is the baby brother of retired Russian sniper Sergei Fedorov. However, Fedor seems to have acquired just a slither of his brother’s talent. The Russian winger has only made 18 NHL appearances for the Canucks and the Rangers, with only two assists. The rest of his hockey since 2008 has been played in the KHL, and he’s currently an unrestricted free agent.
Sergei Fedorov was a special player, perhaps the most dominant in the world in the late 1990s. He won the Cup three times with the Red Wings as well as the Hart Trophy for most valuable player during an NHL season. He’s one of many Soviet players to have defected at the time, the Russian youngster having quietly slipped out of his Portland hotel room when CSKA Moscow had been visiting. He’ll forever be remembered as one of the best Russian players and exquisite skaters the NHL has even seen.
4 Gordie Howe (Brother, Vic)
Gordie Howe, Mr. Hockey himself, sadly passed away earlier this year. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger gentleman to ever play the game. The legend of Howe is sprinkled all over the game to this day. For example, when a player gets a goal, an assist, and a fight, he’s got the Gordie Howe hat-trick. His nickname was literally Mr. Hockey. Considered one of the most complete players to ever play the game, he played 26 NHL seasons, most of them with the Red Wings, and holds records to this day in most games played.
Vic Howe, who passed away right before his brother in 2015, played 33 games in the NHL for the New York Rangers. His brother played 1,767 games. If that doesn’t say it all, I don’t know what does. Vic would get three goals and four assists during his short NHL career, and would spend the rest in different minor leagues in the United States and Canada.
3 Mario Lemieux (Brother, Alain)
Most people probably don’t even know that Mario Lemieux’s brother played in the NHL. Mario, on the other hand, is considered the second best player by many to ever lace up skates after The Great One. His NHL totals include 1,723 points, not to mention he came out of a three-year retirement in the year 2000 and continued to play until 2006.
Alain was nowhere near as good as his brother, although he did get to enjoy 119 games in the NHL, one of those games coming with the Penguins at the same time his brother was there. He would actually be the one replacing Mario Lemieux, who was out due to injury. The equipment manager gave him the number 33, a play on his brother’s number 66. He would earn 72 points in his 119 games, not a bad total for someone who spent most of his career in the minors.
2 Mark Messier (Brother, Paul)
Besides doing weird yet vaguely entertaining Rogers commercials, Mark Messier was one of the biggest studs in the league, and is to this day considered one of the best to ever play the game. So good, in fact, that he’s second all-time in the NHL for points, playoff points, and regular season games played. But what made Messier particularly lethal was his leadership, being the only player in NHL history to captain two different teams to Stanley Cup championships. He actually won six Stanley Cups, no big deal. I think you get the picture, Mark Messier is a legend.
Paul Messier did not enjoy not even a per cent of what his younger brother did. Selected in the third round, he would make it into nine NHL games, but was never as big or as physical as Mark to ever be threatening in the NHL. He would play the rest of his hockey in Europe, where he eventually found somewhat of a scoring touch.
1 1.Wayne Gretzky (Brother, Brent)
Introducing the number one brother duo on this list, the Gretzkys. Imagine being the Great One’s brother. Brent Gretzky, who I’ve taken the liberty of nicknaming “the not so great one” played 13 games in the NHL for the Tampa Bay Lightning, before becoming a career minor-leaguer. In those 13 games, he played against his brother Wayne once, and here’s what he had to say.
"We must have faced off 15 times and I won one. I remember chasing him behind the net. I knew what he was going to do and I still found myself looking for my jock. The hardest part was after the game, going and watching ESPN. It was older Gretzky shows young Gretzky how to play hockey."
I don’t think I need to tell you much about how much better Wayne was. He leads the NHL 2,857 points, a feat that I think no one in the world will ever accomplish again. No worries Brent, literally not one person can do what your brother did.
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