10 greatest American hockey families of all time
This week is designated “Hockey Week Across America” by USA Hockey. It commenced this past Sunday, and was highlighted by numerous All-American market matchups across NBC and NBC Sports Network.
Throughout the week, USA Hockey promotes different themed days to honor different aspects of the games that fans enjoy most. The Pucks and Recreation staff decided to come up with this ranking to make note of American hockey families that have significantly impacted the sport in this country.
Some of these families impacted the sport across multiple generations, others in both men’s and women’s hockey. All have had members represent the country in international competition.
The logic behind these rankings included weighing team performances while representing the United States. Families that have made an impact across multiple generations and with multiple people within those generations were also given a higher ranking.
In the end, the top 1o American hockey families were ranked based on their overall impact to the game, not so much their individual stats on the ice.
10. The Millers
Brothers Kip, Kevin and Kelly Miller all represented Team USA at various levels throughout their careers. Kip and Kelly both were on World Junior Championship teams (Kelly was a captain). Kevin was on the Olympic team in 1988. Kip won the Hobey Baker Award with Michigan State in 1990. And all three had significant NHL careers.
These Millers are cousins of the two current NHL Miller brothers, Drew and Ryan. Ryan has been on three U.S. Olympic teams, backstopping a silver-medal run in 2010. He also won the Hobey Baker as an MSU Spartan in 2001. Both have enjoyed lengthy NHL careers.
9. The Kessels
Siblings Phil, Blake and Amanda Kessel have all represented the United States in international competition. Blake was on the World Junior team in the 2008-09 season. Phil was in the WJC twice, and has also been in the Olympics twice. He won a silver medal in 2010, and more recently won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Amanda had an incredible career at the University of Minnesota, including a junior year in which she scored 101 points in 46 games. She went on to win a silver medal at the 2014 Olympics, but also suffered a concussion that year that she thought was going to spell the end of her career.
She managed to recover after nearly two years out of the game to finish her last season with the Gophers, helping them to the 2016 national championship. She now plays in the NWHL for the New York Riveters, and was recently captain and MVP of the league’s All-Star game.
8. The Carpenters
Bobby Carpenter had a lengthy NHL career, playing 1,178 games in 18 seasons, and also spent a few years as an assistant coach. He won a Stanley Cup in both roles with the New Jersey Devils. He is also a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Alex Carpenter, his daughter, had an outstanding career for Boston College, while also representing Team USA at the junior, Olympic and World Championship levels. She has a 2014 Olympic silver medal and was drafted first overall by the Riveters before being traded and beginning her professional career with the Boston Pride.
7. The Eaves
Mike Eaves played four years at the University of Wisconsin, appeared in two World Championships and spent a few seasons in the NHL. He has since embarked on a lengthy coaching career, including assistant positions in the NHL, a lengthy tenure as the head coach at Wisconsin, and led the 2004 USA WJC team to a gold medal.
His sons, Ben and Patrick, both played at Boston College. Ben won a national championship with the Eagles in 2001, and both brothers represented Team USA at the WJC. Patrick is still playing in the NHL, and currently enjoying the highest-scoring season of his pro career with the Dallas Stars.
6. The Tkachuks
Keith Tkachuk represented the U.S. at four Olympic Games, earning a silver medal in 2002. He was also on two WJC teams, earning one bronze medal, and helped the U.S. win the 1996 World Cup.
Tkachuk is also the cousin of Casey and Ryan Fitzgerald and Jimmy and Kevin Hayes, all of whom played at Boston College and have represented Team USA at various levels.
Keith’s son, Matthew Tkachuk, is a rookie with the Calgary Flames. He played for the National Team Development Program, earned a bronze medal at the World Junior Championship in 2016 and helped the London Knights win the OHL title and Memorial Cup that year.
5. The Granatos
Cammi Granato is arguably the most decorated player in U.S. women’s hockey history. She is the national team’s all-time leading scorer, captained the first two Olympics teams and played in every World Championship from 1990 to 2005. She is in the U.S., International and Hockey Halls of Fame.
Her brother, Tony Granato, had a successful collegiate playing career at Wisconsin and a lengthy NHL career. He then moved on to coaching, spending a number of years as an NHL assistant coach, plus a few as a head coach.
He is currently in his first year as the head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, where he is assisted by his brother, Don. Don also played at Wisconsin, and has been a coach for Team USA at the junior level for a number of years. Their niece, Allie Granato, is continuing the family legacy at the Division I level, as she is in her freshman year at the University of Vermont.
4. The Suters
The late Bob Suter, his brother Gary and Bob’s son Ryan have all represented the United States at the Olympics. Bob was on the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, while Ryan won a silver medal in 2010. Ryan also won World Junior gold in 2004.
Gary, a defenseman, went on to have an outstanding career in the NHL, including a 91-point season with the Calgary Flames in 1987-88. Ryan has been a solid NHL defender in his own right for the last 12 seasons with the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild.
3. The Christians
Billy Christian and his brother, Roger, both won Olympic gold with Team USA in 1960. Both are in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. They also made a significant impact on the game with the founding of Christian Brother’s hockey sticks.
Billy’s son, Dave, was on the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, and also played at the University of North Dakota, before embarking on a successful NHL career, playing 1,009 games and scoring 773 points.
Dave’s son, Bryant, is currently playing Division I hockey at American International College.
2. The Johnsons
“Badger Bob” Johnson was a legendary hockey master, leading the Wisconsin Badgers to three national titles and directing the 1976 U.S. Olympians. He then won a Stanley Cup as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who continue to use his slogan, “It’s a great day for hockey.”
Mark Johnson, his son, was a key cog on the 1980 Olympic team and played 10 seasons in the NHL. He has gone on to become an impressive coach himself, leading the women’s Olympic hockey team to a silver medal in 2010 and the Badger women’s hockey team to four NCAA titles.
Mark’s brother, Patrick, also played at Wisconsin. His daughter, Mikayla, plays on her dad’s team. Both Bob and Mark are members of the U.S. and Wisconsin Hockey Halls of Fame, and Bob is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame as well.
1. The Rileys
John P. “Jack” Riley is at the top of this legendary hockey family tree. He played college hockey at Dartmouth and both played for and coached the Olympic hockey team. His brothers, Bill and Joe, also played for the Big Green.
As a coach, Jack led the Americans to their first gold medal at the 1960 Olympics. He coached at Army West Point for over 30 years and is in both the U.S. and International Hockey Halls of Fame.
Each of Jack’s five children played college hockey, and two have followed in his footsteps as head coach at Army. Rob, who was a captain at Boston College, spent almost 20 years behind the Black Knights bench. He later passed the torch to his brother, Brian, who has been the bench boss ever since.
The tree does not stop there, however. Both of Brian Riley’s children, Jack and Brendan, are currently playing at Mercyhurst University, and each hope their impact on the game does not stop during their playing years.
Both Jack and Brendan have expressed an interest in coaching in the future, as they told Pucks and Recreation in September. “Besides being a Division I college hockey player, being a coach has been my other goal,” Jack said at the time. “The only thing I really know is hockey.
“I know the ins and outs of coaching from my uncles, my dad and my grandfather. I just want to be a coach somewhere, so wherever the opportunity is hopefully I can achieve that goal.”
The Rileys also share their knowledge of the game each summer in Nantucket, Mass. The Riley Hockey Clinic has taken place for over 50 years, and is yet another way this family has impacted the game in America.