Click here to read part one of this series first!
One of the most enjoyable parts of watching hockey, or even sports in general, is watching relationships develop between players. Whether it’s a rivalry that’s all in good fun between opponents, or a close bond between long-time teammates, it really helps fans build a connection to the game. One of the most unique connections in professional sports is between siblings.
The NHL has seen many cases of this, with some brothers playing together, some playing against each other, even twins playing in sync for their entire careers. Today, we chose three of the most memorable families in recent NHL history and took a look at how the game has helped strengthen their bond over the years. We sorted these sets of siblings into “past”, “present”, and “future.” This story will be published in three parts, the second being the NHL’s siblings of the present.
Present: The Staals (Eric, Jordan, Marc, Jared)
Eric Staal, besides being the brother of Jordan, Marc, and Jared, is one of the most well-known players in the NHL right now. He was drafted second overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He went on to spend 12 seasons with the Hurricanes, from his rookie year in 2003-2004 up until he was traded to the New York Rangers in the middle of the 2015-2016 season.
As a rookie, Staal recorded 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points in 81 games. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and was named the team’s captain in January of 2010. He also appeared in two all-star games as a Hurricane, scoring one goal in the 2007 event and two goals and one assist in 2008.
In June of 2012, his brother Jordan was traded to Carolina in exchange for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin, and the Hurricanes’ first-round pick in 2012. This gave Eric the opportunity to play with his brother, a unique situation that not many players find themselves in during their career.
In the final year of his contract, Staal was shipped off to New York in exchange for prospect Aleksi Saarela, a 2016 draft pick and another draft selection in 2017. The deal was completed to try to give Staal a chance at the Cup, but also put him on the same team as his brother Marc, a unique experience for both of them, and the second time Eric would get to play on the same squad as one of his siblings. Unfortunately, both were faced with disappointment when the Rangers fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a five-game first-round matchup.
On “free agent frenzy day” in 2016, Eric Staal signed a three-year deal with the Minnesota Wild, where he still plays now. Though he slowed down in his last few years with Carolina, the forward has seemed to get his groove back, notching 65 points (28 goals and 37 assists) in 82 games in the 2016-2017 season and 76 points (42 goals and 34 assists) in the following year. Those were numbers he hadn’t seen since 2012, making it obvious that he was a good fit for the Wild. So far this year, the 34-year-old has 23 points (12 goals and 11 assists) in 34 games, putting him on pace for a 55-point campaign this year.
Like his older brother Eric, Jordan Staal was drafted second overall. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins, three years after his brother was picked by Carolina, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He began his NHL career during the 2006-2007 season. As a rookie, the center recorded 29 goals and 13 assists for a total of 42 points in 81 games. He was named a finalist for the Calder Trophy, but was ultimately beat out by teammate Evgeni Malkin.
The team named him an alternate captain in 2008, the same year that he won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh. In his final season as a Penguin, he notched 50 points for the first time in his career (25 goals and 25 assists in 62 games).
He was traded to the Hurricanes in the summer of 2012, as mentioned earlier, and coincidentally on the same day as his wedding. While playing on the same team as his brother Eric, Jordan played some of the best hockey of his career, consistently reaching the 30- or 40-point mark.
Unlike Eric, Jordan is still in Carolina. He was named a “co-captain” of the team in Eric’s absence, alternating with Justin Faulk from 2017 to 2018 when Justin Williams was named captain full-time. He and Faulk now serve as alternate captains. So far this year, the 30-year-old has five goals and six assists for 11 points in 29 games but has been sidelined with upper-body injuries intermittently throughout this year’s campaign thus far.
The third of the consistent NHL players in the Staal family is the only one who has played for one team throughout his entire career. Marc Staal was drafted 12th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He began playing in the NHL during the 2007-2008 season. In 80 games, he recorded two goals and eight assists, resulting in 10 points scored during his rookie year.
He was named an alternate captain of the Rangers during the 2010-2011 season and has served as one since in both home and away games. He reached his career high in points in 2010-2011, scoring 29 points (seven goals and 22 assists) in 77 games. The defenseman was also selected to play in the 2011 All-Star Game, playing alongside his brother Eric for the first time.
However, he hasn’t been the same since his eye injury in 2013. He took a slapshot to the face, suffering a small retinal tear and orbital fracture in his right eye, and now can barely see out of it, which has extremely damaged both his offensive and defensive play. His seasons were shortened by injury until 2014.
When Eric was traded to the Rangers for three months, Marc had the rare opportunity to play with his brother in an actual NHL game, something that he and his family cherished. Though his skill has declined over time due to injury and skill, Staal has been performing better than expected so far this season, with two goals and five assists for seven points in 35 games with the Rangers. He already passed his point total from last year, and one more point matches his point total from the season before. He is also a valuable leadership presence for younger players, especially in the Rangers current rebuilding environment.
Probably the most overlooked of the Staal siblings, Jared Staal is the youngest of the four brothers. He was drafted in 2008, 49th overall by the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes. He spent many years in the OHL, eventually getting to the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, the Coyotes’ then-affiliate, on an amateur tryout contract.
In May 2010, the Hurricanes acquired his rights from the Coyotes in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. Carolina then signed him to a three-year entry-level contract. After 12 games with their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, he was sent back down to the ECHL.
He returned to Charlotte for the 2011-2012 campaign but was later loaned to the Providence Bruins, the NHL’s Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate. The Hurricanes recalled him for just two games during the 2012-2013 season, in which he recorded no points.
After bouncing between the AHL and ECHL for a few more years, Jared played one final season in the EIHL (2016-2017) for the Edinburgh Capitals, serving as an alternate captain, where he recorded 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points in 44 games. He has not been active since then.
Look out for the final installment of “Oh, Brother!: The NHL’s Siblings From the Past, Present, and Future” soon, where we’ll finish out this trilogy by discussing the siblings we think will take over the hockey world in the next few years. Again, you can catch up and read the first part of this series, where we recapped the Sedin twins’ careers, here.