Ask any professional hockey player who has had the most influence on his playing career, and 99 times out of 100 the answer is: “My parents.”
Almost every hockey player tells tales of mom and/or dad behind the wheel for all those drives to all those early morning practices or out-of-town tournaments, the hours upon hours spent in the stands, cheering on their sons and daughters.
With Father’s Day around the corner, it’s time to shine the spotlight on the patriarchs in these hockey players’ lives. Here’s a look at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins players whose dads have also played in the pro ranks.
JIM AND JOSH ARCHIBALD
Jim was quite the scorer at the University of North Dakota, with 56 goals and 94 points over four seasons. He racked up the penalty minutes as well. His 197 PIMs led the NCAA during his senior season in 1984-85. He also had three AHL stints with the Springfield Indians (1984-87), and appeared in 16 NHL games with the Minnesota North Stars.
Selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the sixth round (174th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft, Josh had a break-out season in his third year as a pro. He set career highs with 16 goals, 13 assists and 29 points in 61 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He potted two goals versus Arizona in his season debut with Pittsburgh on February 11. But that night most likely pales in comparison to all that transpired a few months later; skating in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final and hoisting the coveted trophy six days later.
TIM AND DEREK ARMY
A four-year letterman at Providence College from 1981-85, Tim Army’s first year as a pro came in the AHL with the Maine Mariners. Army’s playing career lasted just two seasons as he returned to his alma mater in 1987 as an assistant coach for the Friars. That would begin a 30-year span as a coach that has seen Army serve as an assistant in the NHL with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche.
Derek was a well-traveled player during the 2015-16 season. One of his four stints in the American Hockey League came with the Penguins, where he skated in 13 games and compiled four points. He would rejoin the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers for the final weeks of the regular season and their improbable run to the Kelly Cup Final. Army and the Nailers rallied from back-to-back 3-2 series deficits to move past both Reading and South Carolina before falling to the Allen Americans in six games.
DON AND TYLER BIGGS
Eight of Don Biggs‘ 15 seasons as a player were spent in the American Hockey League. The 5-8 center was named Most Valuable Player in 1992-93 after posting 138 points (54G-84A) in 78 games with the Binghamton Rangers. Biggs also helped the Hershey Bears to the Calder Cup in 1988.
A former first-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Biggs came to the Penguins as part of the blockbuster deal that brought Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh organization. An injury-filled season limited Tyler to just 11 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
MARC AND TAYLOR CHORNEY
Marc and Taylor are the rare father-son combo to both skate for the same organization. As a defenseman for the University of North Dakota, Marc was picked in the sixth round of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was an All-American who helped North Dakota take home the 1980 NCAA title, and turned pro after his senior season in 1980-81. Marc went on to skate in 139 games with Pittsburgh before a trade sent him to the Los Angeles Kings in 1983.
Taylor followed in his father’s footsteps, not only in his position as a defenseman, but also in his college choice of North Dakota. And as his father did, Taylor would also go on to don the black and gold, signing with Pittsburgh as a free agent in the summer of 2014. He appeared in seven NHL games for the Penguins, while leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a plus-26 rating in 62 games.
ALAIN AND J.P. COTE
In 1977, Alain had the distinction of being selected by Montreal in the third round of the NHL Amateur Draft, while also being picked by the Quebec Nordiques in the WHA Amateur Draft. Choosing to begin his pro career with the Nordiques, both player and team would join the NHL ranks in 1979, following the demise of the WHA. The left-winger skated in 802 total contests for Quebec, including 696 in the NHL.
Jean-Phillipe Cote’s lone season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came in 2008-09, when he recorded two goals, 10 assists and 75 penalty minutes in 50 games. A veteran of over 600 games in the American Hockey League, Cote has twice had his name etched on the Calder Cup (2007 – Hamilton & 2012 – Norfolk).
JOE AND GREG CROZIER
Joe’s playing career consisted of eight seasons with the Quebec Aces in the QHL, followed by stints with Springfield, Providence and Rochesters in the AHL. He also suited up for five NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1959-60. The elder Crozier went on to become one of the most accomplished coaches in American Hockey League history, leading the Rochester Americans to back-to-back Calder Cups in 1964 and 1965, and a third championship in 1967. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2012.
Greg Crozier was a member of the inaugural Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins squad in 1999-00. As a rookie that year, Crozier registered 44 points in 71 matches and ranked third on the team with 22 goals. The ensuing season saw Greg raise his output, setting career highs in goals (26), assists (44) and points (60) and earning a selection to the 2001 AHL All-Star Game. Crozier also helped lead the Penguins to the Calder Cup Final in just their second year of existence.
DEAN AND BRANDON DEFAZIO
Dean was chosen by the Penguins in the ninth round of the 1981 NHL Draft. His time as a pro began with the Penguins’ then-AHL affiliate, the Baltimore Skipjacks. During his rookie season in 1983-84, Dean also made 22 appearances for Pittsburgh. In three seasons with the Skipjacks, DeFazio mustered 96 points and 373 PIM.
An undrafted free-agent out of Clarkson University, Brandon signed on with the Wheeling Nailers on March 12, 2011. His impact was immediate, notching nine points (4G-5A) over his first 10 pro games. DeFazio made the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton roster out of training camp the following season and showed an early knack for the net (11 goals) and physical play (104 penalty minutes).
MIKE AND BEN EAVES
Mike Eaves is best known for his time as head coach for the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team. In 14 seasons behind the bench for the Badgers, Eaves led his team to the NCAA tournament seven times and took home the title in 2006. Not long before being hired by Wisconsin, Eaves was an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1997 to 2000. He also played eight seasons in the NHL with the Minnesota North Stars (1978-83) and Calgary Flames (1983-86).
After a very successful four-year career with Boston College that included the 2001 NCAA Championship, Ben Eaves kicked off his pro career with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2004-05. The 2001 fourth-round Penguins draft pick netted 10 points (4G-6A) in 43 games as a rookie, but saw his sophomore season limited to just five games due to a knee injury. He currently serves as assistant coach to his dad, Mike, at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.
JAN AND TIM ERIXON
Jan Erixon was taken in the second round (30th overall) by the New York Rangers in the 1981 NHL Draft. After three seasons with Skelleftea in the Swedish League, Erixon came to the United States to join the Rangers for the 1983-84 season. He would play 10 years in New York, totaling 556 games played, 57 goals and 159 assists. He returned to Sweden in 1993 and has been a coach for Skelleftea’s U20 team for the past seven years.
Selected 23rd overall by Calgary in 2009, Erixon was traded to the Rangers before ever skating a game in North America. After being shuttled to Columbus, Chicago and Toronto, it was the Phil Kessel trade that saw Tim settle in with the Penguins. Over the last two seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Erixon has played in 109 games and logged 37 points (7G-30A).
MIKE AND JAKE GUENTZEL
A defenseman during his playing days at the University of Minnesota (1981-85), Mike Guentzel had a four-game stint with the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL in 1984-85. He has been a part of the Gophers’ coaching staff since 1994 and helped guide Minnesota to consecutive NCAA Championships in 2002 and 2003 and currently serves as Associate Head Coach for the Gophers. Mike also had one of the best Dad reactions to his son, Jake, scoring his first NHL goal.
What a year and two months it has been for rookie forward Jake Guentzel. First, he burst onto the scene last spring with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, leading the team in postseason scoring with 14 points (5G-9A) in 12 games. For a second act, he officially opened up his pro career with 41 points this season in just 33 contests with the Penguins, and was leading all AHL rookies in scoring before making the permanent jump to Pittsburgh. Jake scored twice in his NHL debut versus the New York Rangers on Nov. 21 and, for an encore, broke the NHL rookie scoring record with 21 points on 13 goals and 8 assists. Oh yeah, he also just won the Stanley Cup.
GREG AND ANDREW HOTHAM
Traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs midway through the 1981-82 season, defenseman Greg Hotham came on board with the Penguins to appear in 170 games and notch 74 points (11G-63A).
While skating with the Wheeling Nailers during the 2011-12 campaign, Andrew signed a PTO with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and skated in two tilts.
SAMI AND KASPERI KAPANEN
A five-time Olympic Medalist for Team Finland, Sami Kapanen also enjoyed a 12-year career in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers. He is the majority owner and head coach of his hometown team of KalPa in the Finnish League.
The highly-talented Kasperi Kapanen was picked 22nd overall by the Penguins in 2014. He made his North American debut with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Apr. 9, 2015, tallying a goal and an assist against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He also added five more points in seven postseason contests. Kapanen was dealt to Toronto that off-season in the trade the saw Phil Kessell and Tim Erixon join the Penguins.
ERICH AND TOM KUHNHACKL
The achievements match the title bestowed upon Erich Kuhnhackl. He was named Germany’s Ice Hockey Player of the 20th Century and also inducted to the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997. During his playing career, he won four German championships and led West Germany to a bronze medal in the 1976 Winter Olympics.
Tom, now a fifth-year pro, just raised the Stanley Cup for a second straight year with Pittsburgh. Known for his shot blocking and penalty killing prowess, Kuhnhackl collected 29 goals and 30 assists in 154 games over parts of four seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
TROY AND TY LONEY
Troy spent 10 of 12 NHL seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1983-1993), skating in 532 games and compiling 980 penalty minutes. Like several others on this list, Loney twice raised the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992.
After four years at the University of Denver, Ty signed as a free-agent with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 2015-16 season. He posted six assists in 31 games with the Penguins and was also a key cog for the Wheeling Nailers in reaching the 2016 Kelly Cup Final.
GREG AND RYAN MALONE
Drafted 19th overall by the Penguins in 1976, Greg Malone’s first game as a professional came in Pittsburgh that same year. Malone added 494 games played to his resume with the Penguins to go along with 364 points. Following his retirement in 1987, Malone served as Pittsburgh’s Director of Scouting from 1989 to 2007.
After the completion of his senior season at St. Cloud State University, Ryan joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2003 for three regular season contests, but that would be the only action Malone saw in Northeast PA. The 1999 fourth-round draft pick made the big club out of camp the next season and went on to spend four years in Pittsburgh, while registering 169 points (87G-82A) in 299 games.
GERRY AND COLIN MCDONALD
From 1980-84, Gerry skated in 273 American Hockey League games between the New Haven Nighthawks and Binghamton Whalers. He collected 21 goals, 106 assists and also appeared in eight NHL contests with the Hartford Whalers.
Colin was the Penguins’ third-leading scorer in 2011-12 with 49 points, and led the team with 35 assists in 68 games. He turned up his production in the postseason with 13 points (6G-7A) in 12 playoff tilts.
GILLES AND ERIC MELOCHE
Gillies has been involved with the Penguins organization for more than 30 years. The final three seasons of an 18-year professional career (which also saw stops in Oakland, Cleveland and Minnesota) were spent as a backstop in Pittsburgh. After hanging up the pads and skates, Meloche joined the front office as a goaltending coach and scout.
A four-year letterman at Ohio State and a seventh-round pick of the Penguins in 1996, Eric was a part of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s trips to the Calder Cup Final in both 2001 and 2004. Over four seasons, he skated in 249 games for the Penguins and he ranks in the top-ten all-time for the team in both goals (61) and points (138).
BILL AND BRENDAN MIKKELSON
Bill’s AHL career is a veritable history lesson, having played for the Springfield Kings, Baltimore Clippers, Richmond Robins, Rhode Island Reds and Hershey Bears. As a rookie defenseman, he lifted the Calder Cup with the Kings in 1971.
Brendan’s time in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton came in 2013-14, when he led team defenseman with 38 points (8G-30A) in 73 games. Mikkelson and the Penguins made it to the Eastern Conference Final that season before falling to St. John’s in six games.
KENT AND ROBERT NILSSON
Kent Nilsson is not lacking hardware from an 18-year career that included 10 seasons in North America. He won WHA Championships with the Winnipeg Jets in 1978 and ’79, the Stanley Cup in 1987 with the Edmonton Oilers and a Swedish Hockey League title two years later with Djurgardens IF. He was also inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.
Robert played in just 19 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2006-07 as part of a dual affiliation that season with the Edmonton Oilers. He was a point per game player for the Penguins, notching six goals and 14 assists during his short time in the Wyoming Valley.
BILL AND WILL O’NEILL
Bill O’Neill just completed his 37th season as head coach of the Salem State men’s hockey team in Massachusetts. He has earned over 500 wins, just the seventh coach in Division III to accomplish this feat, and has led the Vikings to seven NCAA Tournament appearances.
Joining Wilkes-Barre/Scranton during the 2015-16 season, Will became just the fourth defenseman in Penguins history to reach the 50 point mark and the first since Micki Dupont in 2006-07. Will racked up eight goals and 42 assists in 74 contests, while being selected to the AHL All-Star Classic and an AHL Second Team All-Star.
GLENN AND CURTISS PATRICK
One of the founding fathers of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey, Glenn Patrick was head coach of the black and gold for their first four seasons in Northeast Pennsylvania. In just his second year behind the bench, he piloted the Penguins to the Calder Cup Final in 2001. Prior to his coaching stint, Patrick played in the AHL with Hampton and Hershey, in the WHA with Edmonton, and in the NHL with St. Louis, California and Cleveland.
Curtiss spent his first three seasons as a pro with the Wheeling Nailers from 2004-07. It was during the 2006-07 season that he received a call-up to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, appearing in 10 games.
(Note: The Patricks are considered the “Royal Family of Hockey”. Curtiss’ uncle is Craig Patrick, the former General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Hockey Hall of Famer, who helped construct the Penguins’ 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup Champion rosters. Curtis’ great-grandfather is Lester Patrick, considered one of the architects of modern hockey. And his grandfather, Lynn, was a two-time All-Star as well as a Stanley Cup Champion with the 1940 New York Rangers.)
JACEK AND MATHIAS PLACHTA
Born in Chrozow, Poland, Jacek Plachta played all 19 of his professional seasons in Germany, totaling 363 points in just over 800 contests. Plachta also skated numerous times for the Team Poland in international competition.
Mathias’ 2015-16 campaign marked his lone season in North America. Plachta began with the Springfield Falcons before being acquired by the Penguins before the trade deadline. In 20 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he gathered seven points.
STEVE AND DANNY RICHMOND
Steve’s AHL career saw him appear in 196 games between the New Haven Nighthawks, Adirondack Red Wings and Utica Devils, registering 18 goals and 85 assists. It was with Adirondack that the defenseman lifted the Calder Cup in 1986. Richmond has served as the Washington Capitals’ Director of Player Development for the past 15 seasons.
A veteran of 480 American Hockey League games, Danny Richmond appeared in 55 contests for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton during the 2008-09 season. He posted three goals, 14 assists and 108 penalty minutes before being acquired by the St. Louis Blues on Mar. 4, 2009.
ULF AND PHILIP SAMUELSSON
As feared a hitter as there ever was in the NHL, Ulf Samuelsson was a member of Pittsburgh’s first back-to-back Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992. Retiring in 2000, Samuelsson played more the 1000 NHL games with Hartford, Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers and Detroit.
A second-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, Philip skated his first three-and-a-half seasons as a pro in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. A stay-at-home defenseman, Samuelsson recorded 45 points in 197 games before being traded to the Arizona Coyotes.
We would be remiss if we failed to mention this grandfather-grandson connection….
ANDY AND ANDY BATHGATE
Andy Bathgate was recently named one of the “100 Greatest NHL Players.” He skated for 17 seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Detroit, Toronto and Pittsburgh. His few AHL appearances saw him help the Cleveland Barons take home the Calder Cup in 1954 and a six-game stint with the Pittsburgh Hornets during the 1966-67 season. Bathgate was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979.
The younger Andy Bathgate had a brief two-game stay with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2011 following his third season with the OHL’s Belleville Bulls. He returned to the Ontario Hockey League the following season and amassed 63 points in 68 games for the Plymouth Whalers.