Commentary

This NHL list is all in the family

Updated: February 1, 2008, 4:09 PM ET
By David Amber | Special to ESPN.com

Having superstar pedigree doesn't always mean superstar results.

Just ask Brent Gretzky (13 NHL games, one goal), Alain Lemieux (119 NHL games, 28 goals), Paul Messier (nine NHL games, 0 goals) or Vic Howe (33 NHL games, three goals).

There are currently 10 sets of brothers playing in the NHL and maybe the Staals, Niedermayers and Sedins will one day crack this list. In the meantime, as Eric (Hurricanes) and Jordan (Penguins) get ready to face off again Saturday night, here are our Top 10 brother acts in NHL history.

[+] EnlargeStastny Brothers
Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images Peter, left, Marian, center, and Anton Stastny all defected to North America from the former Czechoslovakia.

10. (tie) Charlie, Lionel and Roy Conacher
The name Conacher is synonymous with winning. All three brothers are Hockey Hall of Famers and each won at least one Stanley Cup. Charlie, also known as "The Big Bomber," possessed a rare combination of size, power and finesse. He led the NHL in goals five times and twice won the Art Ross Trophy for most points in a season.

Lionel, the eldest brother, scored the first goal in franchise history for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925. Nine years later, he helped the Chicago Blackhawks win their first Stanley Cup and finished second in voting for the Hart Trophy. Lionel also played pro football for the Toronto Argonauts and was named Canada's Greatest Male Athlete of the Half Century (1950) before dying from a heart attack in 1954. The Canadian Press' athlete of the year award is named after Lionel.

Roy led the NHL in goals as a rookie and scored the Cup-winning goal for the Boston Bruins against the Maple Leafs. Roy finished his career with two Cups, two Art Ross Trophies and 226 career goals (the most of the Conacher brothers).

10. (tie) Neal, Paul and Aaron Broten
The first family of Minnesota hockey was led by eldest brother Neal, the only player to play on teams that won the NCAA championship, the Olympic gold medal (Miracle on Ice squad from 1980) and the Stanley Cup. Neal was the first American-born player to score more than 100 points in a single season (1985-86). Neal capped his 17-year career by scoring the Cup-winning goal for the New Jersey Devils against the Detroit Red Wings in 1995.

Middle brother Aaron played 12 NHL seasons, collecting more than 500 career points. Earlier this year, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Youngest brother Paul played seven NHL seasons, including a stint alongside Neal with the Dallas Stars.

9. Dale, Dave and Mark Hunter
Only the Sutter brothers spent more combined time in the penalty box than the Hunters. The three Hunters collectively spent nearly 6,000 minutes in the box -- that's almost 100 hours. But the trio also had skill. Dale, an All-Star and former captain, had 323 goals and 1,020 points to go along with his 3,565 penalty minutes. Oldest brother Dave helped keep the ice safe for Wayne Gretzky, picking up three Stanley Cup rings in Edmonton along the way. Youngest brother Mark was arguably the most skilled of the group. He led St. Louis in goals (44) during the 1985-86 season and won a Stanley Cup with Calgary in 1989. He missed most of 1982-83 season and the entire 1983 playoffs with a torn MCL in his right knee, an injury he suffered after colliding with Dale during a heated Montreal-Quebec showdown.

8. Reggie, Max and Doug Bentley
The Bentley brothers were three of 13 children born and raised in Delisle, Saskatchewan. They made history during the 1942-43 season as the eldest, Reggie, scored his only NHL goal that was assisted by Max and Doug. It was the first time three brothers collected all three points on one goal. Doug and Max, both Hall of Famers, went on to score many more NHL goals. Doug played 13 seasons, winning an Art Ross trophy in 1943, the same year Max took home the Lady Byng. Max also won two scoring crowns as well as a Hart in 1946. The following season, the Blackhawks traded Max to the Maple Leafs, where he helped Toronto win three Cups over the next four seasons.

7. Brian and Joe Mullen
Growing up in the rough New York neighborhood "Hell's Kitchen," Brian and Joe clawed their way from the streets and roller hockey to play what they thought was only a prep school sport for the privileged, ice hockey. Their passion and skill clearly outweighed the financial roadblocks they faced. Older brother Joe left an indelible mark over his 17 NHL seasons, becoming the first American-born player to score 500 goals and collect 1,000 points. His three Stanley Cups and two Lady Byng Trophies have cemented his place as a Hall of Famer. Although he was often overshadowed by Joe, Brian finished with 11 solid NHL seasons, including 260 career goals and more than 600 points.

6. Peter, Marian and Anton Stastny
In 1980, the Stastny brothers started the wave of player defections from the former Czechoslovakia to North America. Peter was 24 when he made his NHL debut and he was an instant superstar. He posted six straight 100-point seasons, one of just seven players in NHL history to accomplish the feat. The six-time All-Star averaged 1.26 points per game over his 14-year career. Only Wayne Gretzky had more points than Peter Stastny during the 1980s.

Youngest brother Anton shared the spotlight in Quebec, playing alongside Peter for nine seasons. Anton recorded nearly a point per game during that time, including eight 25-goal campaigns. Eldest brother Marian joined his brothers in Quebec for four seasons, averaging nearly 30 goals a season. He was 28 when he made his NHL debut. You can only imagine the numbers he would have had if he joined the league a decade earlier.

[+] EnlargeDennis Hull
Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty ImagesDennis, left, and Bobby Hull played together with the Blackhawks from 1964-72.

5. Bobby and Dennis Hull
Bobby and Dennis were two of the most feared shooters the game has ever seen. Older brother Bobby captivated the Windy City with his sheer power and skill. At 22, he helped Chicago win its first Stanley Cup in more than two decades in 1961, its last title to date. Five years later, he became the first player to score more than 50 goals in a season. His Hall of Fame career included 10 All-Star appearances, three Art Ross Trophies and two MVP awards. Younger brother Dennis never matched Bobby's numbers, but the five-time All-Star had a successful 14-year NHL career, scoring 303 goals. Dennis wasn't known to show any sibling jealousy, even writing the book titled "The Third Best Hull," referencing Bobby and nephew Brett.

4. Frank and Peter Mahovlich
Big brother Frank burst onto the NHL scene in 1957, winning the Calder Trophy with Toronto. Over the next decade, he led the Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups, the last coming in 1967. The following season, he was traded to Detroit, where he played alongside his younger brother Peter. The duo reunited in Montreal for four seasons and won two more Stanley Cups. Peter never had the goal-scoring flare of Frank, but his immense size and strength was a pillar on those incredible Montreal teams of the 1970s. The final tally: the Mahovlich brothers combined for 10 Stanley Cups, more than 800 goals and 1,800 points.

3. Brian, Darryl, Duane, Brent, Rich and Ron Sutter
It's hard to imagine six brothers playing in the NHL. It's even harder to believe the eldest Sutter brother, Gary, turned down his opportunity to play pro even though he was considered the most talented of the bunch. With only seven years separating the six brothers, there was at least one Sutter playing in the NHL from 1976 to 2001. Each brother stood out in their own way. Brian was a three-time All-Star, a captain and had more penalty minutes than any of his brothers. Darryl was a captain and has had the most illustrious coaching career of any Sutter. Brent, also a captain, played more NHL games (1,111) and had more goals (363) than any other Sutter, including two Stanley Cups with the Islanders. Duane has the distinction of winning the Cup in each of his first four seasons. Twins Rich and Ron were the highest-drafted Sutters, combining to play nearly 2,000 NHL games.

2. Phil and Tony Esposito
The Esposito brothers are two of the best players in the history of the game. Phil, a 10-time All-Star, is the only player to lead the NHL in goals for six straight seasons. An immovable presence in front of the net, Esposito set every meaningful goals and points record before Wayne Gretzky. Esposito's 76-goal, 152-point performance in 1970-71 is still one of the best seasons in NHL history. A two-time MVP, he collected five Art Ross Trophies and two Stanley Cups in Boston.

Tony is the only goalie on this list. Not blessed with the size and power of his brother, he used incredible agility and quickness to become a three-time Vezina Trophy winner. Tony's acrobatic saves helped pioneer the "butterfly style." As a rookie in 1969, he set the modern-day record for shutouts in a season (15) en route to the Calder Trophy. He has a place alongside Phil in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

1. Maurice and Henri Richard
Maurice and Henri Richard were born 15 years apart but joined forces to make an unstoppable pair in the NHL. They were teammates on the Montreal Canadiens from 1955-1960, winning the Stanley Cup all five seasons they played together. Long before Roger Clemens was throwing fastballs, Maurice was dubbed "The Rocket" and was one of the game's most prolific scorers. He was the first player to score 50 goals in a season (in 50 games) and 500 goals in a career.

At 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds, Henri was aptly known as "The Pocket Rocket." Despite his small frame, he was a crafty and skilled scorer. He finished his career with nine 20-goal seasons and more than 1,046 points. Both brothers played their entire careers with Montreal, helping the franchise build the richest winning tradition in NHL history. Henri won 11 Stanley Cups, a record for any player, and Maurice took home eight.

ESPN reporter David Amber is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.