Being born into a wealthy family is something beyond the control of anyone. It provides an immediate advantage in many aspects of life, such as education opportunities, the type of treatment received from authority figures, and the freedom to pursue passions rather than being forced into the necessity of work at a young age. There is no guaranteed path to success in professional sports, which is one of the last remaining true meritocracies in modern society. However, it is undeniable that additional opportunities are provided to young athletes that have families willing to pay a premium. Whether it’s using family wealth to buy a backyard rink, top of the line equipment, or elite-level coaching, these advantages can add up over time.
In our current time, hockey is probably the most expensive sport for the parents of a young athlete. Equipment, ice time, coaching, tournament fees, league fees, and other ancillary costs add up over the course of a season. During the development of an emerging talent, these fees can cost thousands of dollars and place an enormous financial burden on families. This is a common story in the world of hockey, where the parents of players are sometimes required to take a second job or mortgage on their house to afford the cost of their kids playing the game they love.
In a sport where it isn’t uncommon for parents to spend around $50,000 over the course of a youth player’s 10-year developmental career, privileged children obviously have an advantage. Having a family that places a priority on their child’s sporting education is going to yield a beneficial outcome for many players fortunate enough to be in this position. The NHL is full of players that were in this position of advantage as young players and this list features those best able to convert on the opportunities provided to them.
15 Mike Comrie
Mike Comrie lived a charmed life even before making it as a star in the NHL. Born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Comrie is the son of Bill Comrie, founder of The Brick. The Brick is one of the largest retailers of furniture, appliances, and mattresses in Canada and the successful business has allowed the Comrie’s net worth to exceed $500 million. Comrie was not only born into money, but he was able to marry into it as well. Comrie married Hilary Duff in 2010 and the couple had two children together before divorcing in 2015. Almost ironically, Duff ended up paying Comrie an estimated $2.5 million during their divorce settlement, in order to maintain ownership of their Beverly Hills estate. The rich get richer.
14 Mark Howe
Growing up in the shadow of your father is a difficult task for any young man, but being born into hockey royalty like Mark Howe carries its own enormous burden. Mark’s father Gordie played in an era before opulent player salaries, but he was still able to collect a salary worth several times what the average worker in Detroit was making at the time. Despite his father Gordie being taken advantage of by the Detroit Red Wings front office for years, Mark was still able to receive the finest coaching and equipment available to a young player. Mark parlayed these advantages into a very successful NHL career that ended with his induction to both the U.S. and NHL Hockey Halls of Fame. Gordie and Mark were the second father-son duo to earn the HOF honors.
13 Max Domi
Being a second generation NHL player carries a burden of expectation for many sons following in the footsteps of their fathers. Max Domi is in the unique position of following the path blazed by his father Tie, who was one of the most successful enforcers in the history of the league. Domi racked up around $15 million in salary during the course of his career in the NHL and Max already looks to be headed down a similar, though less violent track. Now in his second NHL season, Domi is an emerging star earning $925,000 per season with the Arizona Coyotes. It will take some time to match his father’s impressive career totals, but Max has already topped his dad’s best single season goal total.
12 Brett Hull
Brett Hull’s career path was seemingly set out from birth. Entering the world as the son of the legendary Bobby Hull, Brett had an excellent example to emulate throughout his development as a young player. Bobby is arguably hockey’s first million dollar man, having earned that honor thanks to his 1972 deal signed with the Winnipeg Jets of the then World Hockey Association. At the time, Bobby’s deal was worth an outrageous sum of $2.75 million over ten years and included a $1 million signing bonus. Brett was fortunate enough to play in hockey’s first big money era and finished his career with earnings in excess of $52 million. Bobby and Brett were the first father-son duo elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame and are the only pair to each score over 1,000 points in their careers.
11 Michael Del Zotto
Before he was stirring up trouble with adult film stars and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, Michael Del Zotto was a kid raised in suburban Toronto. He attended St. Brother Andre Catholic High School, where he began his personal tradition of wearing #4 in honor of Bobby Orr. Both of his parents emigrated to Canada from Italy and his Italian heritage has shone through during his time in the NHL. Del Zotto’s father was a wide receiver drafted by the Toronto Argonauts and Michael was raised in a tight knit Italian family. His paternal grandparents were a close part of the family, living with them throughout Michael’s childhood, while his maternal grandparents lived next door with his aunt and uncle.
10 Joffrey Lupul
Joffrey Lupul was born and raised in Fort Saskatchewan in a hockey family that has seen him grow and flourish throughout his NHL career. His grandfather, Tom Mayson, was an investor in the Edmonton Investor’s Group that formed the ownership of the Edmonton Oilers, where Lupul enjoyed a stint during the 2006-07 season. His father Craig, is an award winning attorney in Edmonton and gave Joffrey his interesting name inspired by poet Geoffrey Chaucer. Lupul was a fan of the Oilers growing up, attending many games with his family who were season ticket holders. If he chooses to retire following his failed physical with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Lupul will have earned over $26 million during the course of his career in the NHL.
9 Paul Stastny
As the son of the first European born NHL player to reach 1,000 career points, Paul Stastny had some big shoes to fill. Peter, his father, had been a defector from Czechoslovakia, that had to bribe officials in order to secure his family’s passage to Canada. Paul never had to resort to such drastic actions and was trained in the top youth hockey programs as he followed his dad from Quebec to New Jersey and finally ending up in St. Louis, where Paul now plays. Both Paul and Peter were able to translate their hockey skills into financial success; from a family of political refugees to become one of the quintessential stories of success in pursuit of the North American dream.
8 Sam Gagner
Sam Gagner is another NHL star that had to grow up in the shadow of a father who had already made fans familiar with the family name. Dave, his father, made sure the family never had financial worries earning over $10 million in career salary as he plied his trade in New York, Dallas, Minnesota, Florida, Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto. Sam followed his father around the continent, impressing in youth leagues before he was an award-winning talent with the Toronto Marlboros. Gagner continued his father’s legacy of earning a good living in hockey, with career earnings in excess of $24 million and counting as he continues his career in Columbus. Hockey success wasn’t just limited to Sam either, his sister currently plays collegiate hockey for Dartmouth.
7 Alexander Ovechkin
As the son of two famous Soviet athletes, Alexander Ovechkin grew up living a life of privilege that was uncommon for children of his era. His mother Tatyana won two Gold Medals in the Olympics for basketball, while his father Mikhail was a professional soccer player. Growing up, Alex said that money was never really an issue, but he still faced a significant amount of hardship during his youth, losing his brother to a car accident when Alex was only 10. Some have claimed that this has been the inspiration behind the passion he regularly displays on the ice. Despite his background, Ovechkin remains one of the hardest working players in the league and has demonstrated that that he is capable of rising to just about any challenge.
6 Joe Colborne
In spite of earning a handsome salary in excess of a million dollars, it took until his third NHL contract for Joe Colborne to outearn his father. That’s because Joe’s father Paul has been the CEO, President, and Director of Surge Energy, an oil and natural gas company since 2013. Prior to that role, Colborne had been in the oil industry for over 20 years, which allowed him to help foster his son’s burgeoning hockey career with a backyard rink to train on. Now that Joe is on his third NHL contract and earning $2.5 million per season with the Colorado Avalanche, he can boast to being the family’s leading annual breadwinner, but he still has a long way to go to match his father’s impressive career earnings.
5 Cody Hodgson
Cody Hodgson’s father and mother are both massively successful in their respective fields, making Cody’s hockey career appear seemingly minor in comparison. Cody’s mother, Marie, is the executive director of a day care. His father Chris is even more successful, currently serving as the president of the Ontario Mining Association and a former member of the Ontario provincial Progressive-Conservative cabinet. After his father retired from politics in 2003, Cody began emerging as a hockey talent with the Brampton Battalion. Once billed as a young potential savior of the Vancouver Canucks, Cody was traded to Buffalo and then signed with Nashville, before making the shocking decision to retire from hockey at the age of 26. Hodgson now works in the Predators youth hockey program.
4 Carey Price
Leadership is a quality that runs in Carey Price’s family and was demonstrated long before Price put on the Team Canada jersey. Price’s mother, Lynda is a former chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation and his father Jerry is an administrator of the adult learning center in Anahim Lake, British Columbia, where the Prices moved when Carey was just three years old. After learning to play hockey on frozen ponds and streams, his father would drive Price on a 640 kilometer round trip to play hockey in Williams Lake three times per week. In order to lessen the strain of driving, Jerry put his pilot’s license to use and purchased a Piper Cherokee to fly to and from practices. The family placed a priority on Carey’s hockey development and used the travel time together to grow closer as a family. It clearly paid dividends with Carey’s gold medal performance in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
3 Vladimir Tarasenko
Being born into a sporting family certainly aided in the development of Vladimir Tarasenko. His father, Andrei, was a former professional player in Russia and represented Russia at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer. He was the director of children sport at the Omsk Institute of Physical Culture before he would go on to become the head coach of HC Sibir Novosibirsk, where he would coach young Vladimir. Vladimir’s mother, Yulia, was an amateur athlete who would travel to support her husband, leaving young Vladimir in the care of his grandparents who emphasized his academic and physical education. Now that Vladimir has signed his eight-year, $60 million contract with the St. Louis Blues, he will be able to help provide the same for his younger brother, Valentin.
2 Marian Hossa
Despite being born in Czechoslovakia, Marian Hossa was fortunate to have been brought up in a privileged environment. His father Frantisek was a former professional player who coached the Slovak National Hockey Team and then served as the head coach of Spartak Moscow of the KHL. Hossa’s mother, Maria worked as a designer in a clothing factory. Hossa’s parents helped Marian and his brother Marcel pursue their dream of becoming professional hockey players. Hossa has been one of the league’s leading stars for the better part of two decades, playing everywhere from Ottawa to Atlanta and now Chicago. Over the course of his career, Hossa has earned over $80 million in salary, meaning that his kids will have plenty of opportunity to play hockey is they so choose.
1 Zach Parise
Zach Parise is another NHL star that decided to follow in the footsteps of his father and pursue a lucrative dream in the family business, hockey. Parise’s father J.P. began his hockey career in 1965 at the age of 21 with the Boston Bruins and continued playing until he retired with the Minnesota North Stars in 1979. He would go on to coach for the North Stars throughout the 80s before becoming the director of hockey at the famed Shattuck-St. Mary’s, where he was instrumental in the development of his son, along with Sidney Crosby, Jack Johnson, and other NHL stars. Zach is a far superior offensive player than his father, and has used his skill to earn over $60 million so far during his career in the sport.
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