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It's All Relative: Flyers Edition

August 16, 2015, 10:31 AM ET [46 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT

On this date in 1971, the brother duo of Wayne and Larry Hillman inked new contracts with the Flyers. The Hillmans were one of four brother combinations to be teammates on the Flyers. Here's an extended look at the NHL (and Flyers-specific) family ties of players who have suited up in the organization:

Wayne and Larry Hillman (1969-70 to 1970-71): Older brother Larry and younger sibling Wayne were both defensemen who enjoyed fairly lengthy careers in the NHL. Larry, the slightly more talented and offensive-minded of the two, posted 31 points for the Flyers in 1969-70, and played 791 games in the NHL (143 with the Flyers). Wayne logged 691 NHL games (258 with Philadelphia). Another brother, Floyd, played briefly with the Bruins in 1956-57. Wayne Hillman passed away in 1990 after a bout with cancer.

Joe and Jim Watson (1973 to 1977-78): The Watson boys from Smithers, BC were mainstays on the Flyers' two Stanley Cup champion teams. Joe, nine years Jim's senior, was an original Flyer and a two-time NHL All-Star Game selection. Jim, more naturally gifted than Joe, was one of the best defensemen in team history: a five-time NHL All-Star Game selection and a member of Team Canada at the 1976 Canada Cup. During the 2015-16 season, Jim will join Joe as an inductee in the Flyers Hall of Fame.

Ron and Rich Sutter (1983-84 to 1985-86): The Sutter twins were the youngest of the six Sutter brothers to reach the NHL, following Brian, Darryl, Duane and Brent. Of course, the clan from Viking, Alberta has become a multi-generation NHL family in the last decade. The Flyers selected Ron with the fourth overall pick of the 1982 NHL Draft, while the Penguins chose Rich six picks later. The following year, Flyers GM/coach Bob McCammon traded Ron Flockhart, Mark Taylor, prospect Andy Brickley, a 1984 1st-round pick (Roger Belanger) and a 1984 3rd-round pick (Mike Stevens, who is the younger brother of Scott Stevens) to Pittsburgh in exchange for Rich Sutter, a 1984 2nd-round pick (Greg Smyth) and a 1984 3rd-round pick (David McLay). Ron, the somewhat more talented of the twins, enjoyed the superior career both on the Flyers and elsewhere in the NHL. However, both brothers were mainstays on the team in the mid-80s and both brought the grit and intensity for which all the Sutters are known.

Brayden and Luke Schenn (2012-13 to present): Both Schenn brothers are former first-round picks acquired via trade with other NHL organizations. Defensive defenseman Luke joined the Flyers during the summer of 2012 in a one-for-one trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for James van Riemsdyk. One summer earlier, the Flyers acquired Brayden, a forward, from the Los Angeles Kings as part of the Mike Richards trade.

Note: Kimmo and Jussi Timonen both played for the Flyers but not at the same time (unless you count the 2007 preseason). Younger brother Jussi was drafted by Philly in 2001 (146th overall) and played in the organization from 2006-07 until part of the way through the following season. Jussi played 14 NHL games for the Flyers in 2006-07. He was still in the organization at the time when the Flyers acquired Kimmo from Nashville in the summer of 2007 but was demoted to the Phantoms during the next preseason. The Flyers traded Jussi to the Dallas Stars organization during the 2007-08 season. Today, Jussi plays in Finland for KalPa Kuopio, where the recently retired Kimmo is a minority owner.

The Flyers have also had a host of players who have brothers who've also played in the NHL, but not with the Flyers:

Mikael Andersson
Dave Babych
Harvey Bennett
Brian Benning
Martin Biron
Mike Busniuk
Vyacheslav Butsayev
Drew Callendar
Mike Comrie

Kevin Dineen (brother Peter was drafted by Flyers but never played for the team at the NHL level)
Gilbert Dionne
Ron Flockhart
Mark Greig
Derian Hatcher
Randy Holt
Mark Howe
Dan Kordic
Mark Laforest
Daymond Langkow
Eric Lindros
Rosaire Paiement
Jean Potvin
Keith Primeau
Joe Sacco
Tom Sestito
Jim Vandermeer (older brother Pete was a teammate on the Phantoms and later, on the Phoenix Coyotes, but never with the Flyers)
James van Riemsdyk
Roman Vopat
Eric Wellwood
Blake Wesley
Gord Williams


Apart from brother combinations who played for the team, the Flyers have had numerous personnel with overlapping ties (either concurrent or at separate times) to others in the organization. This includes:

* Winger Kevin Dineen played under head coach father Bill Dineen for part of the 1991-92 season and all of 1992-93.

* For a time when they played in the NAHL, the Philadelphia Firebirds were the secondary minor league affiliate (the AHL's Richmond Robins were the primary farm team) of the Flyers. The 1974-75 Firebirds featured Dale MacLeish (Rick's older brother) and Ray Schultz (Dave's older brother). The club also had players named Mike Clarke and John Barber, but they were not related to Bobby Clarke or Bill Barber.

* Former Phantoms defenseman Blake Kessel is the brother of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel and the cousin of David Moss.

* Former Flyers forward Brian Savage is the nephew of former Flyers defensemen Larry and Wayne Hillman.

* Former Flyers center Chris Gratton and winger Josh Gratton are cousins. Although both suited up for the Flyers, they played here at different times.

* Bob Clarke is the former father-in-law of ex-Flyer Peter White. White's ex-wife, Jody, is Clarke's daughter.

* The Flyers have often invited the brothers, sons and other relatives of current and former players to their various summer rookie camps and preseason training camps. For example, Tomas Sinisalo (Ilkka's son) received a minor league tryout by that means. Back in 2012, Greg Coburn (Brayden's brother), Trevor van Riemsdyk (James' brother), John Stevens Jr. (John's son) and Chase Hatcher (Derian's son) were all summer development camp invitees.

* Phantoms defenseman Nick Luukko is the son of Comcast-Spectacor president Peter Luukko.


Here is an incomplete list of current or former Flyers personnel who have other other family ties (apart from brother who were fellow players) with non-Flyers playing, coaching or front-office ties in the NHL.

* Mark Howe, of course, is the son of "Mr. Hockey", Gordie Howe. Gordie was a teammate of sons Mark and Marty Howe on the Houston Aeros (WHA) and Hartford Whalers (WHA/NHL).

* Ron Hextall is the grandson of Bryan Hextall Sr., the son of Bryan Hextall Jr. and the nephew of Dennis Hextall. Ron's son, Brett Hextall, was a Phoenix Coyotes sixth-round pick (159th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Currently a free agent, Brett played last season with the Phantoms.

* Former Flyers forward Eric Chouinard is the son of Guy Chouinard. Eric and cousin Marc Chouinard were teammates with the Minnesota Wild in 2003-04.

* The late Pierre Gagne, the father of longtime Flyers star Simon Gagne, was a tryout player for the Quebec Aces at the first two training camps (1967 and 1968) after the creation of the Flyers in the 1967 NHL expansion. The Aces were the Flyers' first farm team, and Gagne was a member of the Quebec Junior Aces.

* Former Flyers captain Ed Van Impe is a second cousin of former NHL defenseman Darren Van Impe.

* Darryl Sittler and Ryan Sittler could have become the first two-generation Flyers players if the latter had made it to the NHL. A Flyers' first-round pick in 1992, Sittler's career was set back by a pair of serious injuries and he never advanced beyond the AHL level.

* The Flyers' first general manager, the late Bud Poile, was the father of Nashville Predators GM David Poile. An NHL player in his younger years, Bud and brother Don Poile both played for the Detroit Red Wings but not at the same time.

* Former Flyers defenseman and head coach Terry Murray is the younger brother of Ottawa Senators general manager, Bryan Murray. Both Murray brothers have coached the Washington Capitals. Terry, who served for three seasons as the Phantoms head coach, recently accepted an offer to be the assistant coach of the Buffalo Sabres, where nephew Tim Murray is the general manager.

* Posthumously inducted Hockey Hall of Fame coach Fred Shero is the father of current New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero.

* Flyers Hall of Fame inductee Reggie Leach is the father of former NHL forward Jamie Leach.

* 1960s Flyers forward Wayne Hicks is the father of former NHL forward Alex Hicks.

* Former Flyers defenseman Ulf Samuelsson is the father of current AHL/NHL players Philip Samuelsson and Henrik Samuelsson.

* Contrary to some reports that they are cousins, former Flyers forwards Kimbi Daniels and Scott Daniels are cousins or unrelated. Both have First Nation heritage at any rate. Kimbi is a Manitoba native, while Scott hails from Saskatchewan. Scott Daniels, however, is the father of women's hockey standout Sydney Daniels; a member of Team USA and a student-athlete at Harvard University.

* Anton Statsny was originally drafted by the Flyers (1978, 198th overall). According to Jay Greenberg's Full Spectrum, Ed Snider made a concerted effort in the summer of 1978 to secure the defections of all three Stastny brothers to the U.S. to play for the Flyers. In 1978, the Flyers made a serious attempt to get all three Stastny brothers to defect, paying a Toronto based Czechoslovakian expatriate named Louis Katona to arrange it. The Flyers had five- year contracts waiting for Peter Stastny (at $1.25 million over the length of the deal), Marian Stastny (same) and Anton Stastny ($850,000).

Philadelphia paid Katona $20,000 up front, with another $300,000 pending upon successfully delivering the brothers to Philadelphia. But Katona never delivered. He simply pocketed his twenty grand advance and refused to return it.

The next year, the NHL declared the Flyers' draft selection of Anton to be invalid on the basis that Stastny was too young in 1978 (at the time, players had to be 20 years old to be drafted). As a result, the Quebec Nordiques were able to draft Anton 83rd overall in 1979. Of course, all three Stastny brothers defected to the West, and became teammates on the Nordiques. Peter went on to a Hall of Fame career.

* In the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals between the Flyers and Rangers, Philadelphia forward Trent Klatt drilled brother-in-law (and former University of Minnesota linemate) Ken Gernander so hard with a clean hit, the latter was knocked out of the series.

* Former Flyers goaltender Jeff Hackett is the uncle of goalie Matt Hackett, who has played for the Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres.

* Former Flyers goaltending prospect Jeremy Duchesne is the son of the late Gaetan Duchese, an NHL forward.

* Former Flyers defenseman Terry Carkner and current NHL defenseman Matt Carkner are distant cousins.

* Don Luce, the Flyers former Director of Player Development, played as a teammate of brother-in-law Mike Boland on the Buffalo Sabres in 1978-79.

* Former Flyers defenseman Kerry Huffman is the brother-in-law of former St. Louis Blues defenseman Mike Posavad.

* The late Rick "Jumbo" Lapointe, who played defense for the Flyers for two years (1977-78 to 1978-79) in the late 1970s, was the brother-in-law of longtime Minnesota North Stars defenseman Brad Maxwell.

* Mika Pyörälä, who passed briefly through the Flyers in 2009-10 before returning to Europe the following season, is the brother-in-law of standout Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. Pyörälä is married to Rinne's twin sister.

* Pavel Kubina's father-in-law, Frantisek Cernik, was one of the elite goal-scorers in Czechoslovakia during the mid-70s to mid-1980s. A mainstay on the national team, Cernik was finally allowed by the communist government to come to the Detroit Red Wings (at age 31) for one season in the mid-80s. Today, Cernik is the owner and president of Czech Extraliga team HC Vitkovice. That is where Kubina got his start in hockey.

* In addition to former Flyers forward Harvey Bennett being the brother of NHL players Curt Bennett and Bill Bennett, their father Harvey Bennett Sr. played in the NHL. Curt's ex-wife, Susan Bennett, is a voice-over actress. Most notably, she provided the female voice of Siri for the Apple iPhone.


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The Flyers Alumni will host a fantasy hockey camp from August 21-24 in Atlantic City, open to anyone age 21 and older. Instructors and Alumni participants will include Bernie Parent, Brian Propp, Ian Laperriere, Todd Fedoruk, Andre "Moose" Dupont, Dave "the Hammer" Schultz, Joe Watson and Bob "the Hound" Kelly.

Participation costs $3,000 apiece and you can register a spot online. Over on the Flyers' Alumni website, there is more information on camp-related activities and on-ice schedules.
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