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Family loyalties divided as Schenn brothers square off

Monday, 10.24.2011 / 1:51 PM / NHL Insider

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Family loyalties divided as Schenn brothers square off
When Luke and the Maple Leafs face Brayden and the Flyers on Monday, each will have a younger sister wearing his colors and there's one rule from Mom: No fighting.
PHILADELPHIA -- In the Schenn family draft, the first pick went to 10-year-old Macy, the youngest of Jeff and Rita Schenn's four children.

Without hesitation, she picked oldest brother Luke, so she'll be wearing a blue Leafs No. 2 jersey Monday night. Sister Madison, 14, will be decked out in an orange No. 10 jersey just like the one her other brother, Brayden, will be wearing.

However, Madison told NHL.com that just because she'll be wearing Flyers orange doesn't mean she'll only be cheering for the home team Monday when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

She said she'll be happy if the Flyers score, but added, "If the Leafs do something I'm going to jump up, too."

For the Schenn family, they're in the unique position of having a stake in both sides of Monday's game, as brothers Luke and Brayden Schenn will face off as NHL regular-season opponents for the first time.

"It's really exciting," Rita Schenn told NHL.com. "We're so thankful and glad to be here, especially since we brought the little sisters along, as well. It's exciting. … We've seen them play their hockey when they were younger against each other, and once in Kelowna as juniors, but this is a step above and it's exciting."

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The Schenn family, which hails from Saskatoon, is a close one, but hockey has made it difficult for them all to be together during the season. The whole family had dinner together Sunday night in Philadelphia, a rare occurrence this time of year.

"The whole family was together for once," Brayden said. "In the winter, that hasn't happened for a while. Ever since Luke left home for Kelowna when he was 16, we never really have been together in the winter. This is almost like the first time. It's pretty exciting for the whole family."

At dinner, however, Rule No. 1 in the family manual was underscored -- no fighting.

"I've said that so many times, they've heard it at home," Rita said. "They said mom, you don't have to tell us anymore. It won't happen."

Rita told a story of how the last time the brothers faced off in a regular-season contest, media members asked the same question about the brothers squaring off. In that Feb. 14, 2008 game, Luke's Kelowna Rockets faced Brayden's Brandon Wheat Kings in a Western Hockey League game. Luke was an 18-year-old NHL draft hopeful, while Brayden was a WHL rookie. Kelowna won the game 8-2, thanks to a pair of assists from Luke, while Brayden was scoreless and a minus-2.

"Back then, the media was all over them to fight," Rita said. "We warned them again, we had them that morning, same thing. Then Luke in the pregame, somebody asked him are you going to fight, and he said no, because then we'll have to deal with my mom."

Luke repeated that feeling when asked following the Leafs' practice Monday morning.

"I definitely don't see that happening," he said. "If you get the opportunity you have to play physical on him, but there's definitely no need to fight your bother."

When pushed, however, Luke didn't hesitate to say who would win if the gloves came off.

"I would," he said. "I would definitely win, no doubt."

It's a moot point, however, mostly because of how close the brothers are.

"We're just over a year and a half apart," said Luke, 21. "Growing up, we didn't really go anywhere without each other. If I was with my friends, he'd always tag along, and vice versa. We were always doing things together growing up."

The hockey life has kept them from seeing each other all that much the last few years, but the brothers talk daily and pay close attention to how the other is progressing in his career.

"I moved away when I was 16 and he was 14, so we haven't really seen a ton of each other just because of hockey, being spread out in the WHL and now being in the NHL," Luke said. "We still talk every day, we're still pretty close. He always checks how things are going in Toronto and I always like to keep tabs on him, as well."

"We are best friends," added Brayden, 20. "Us facing off against each other, it was a dream for both of us growing up. Now the day has finally come and we're both pretty excited about it."

Both remembered that 2008 game in Kelowna, but understand the stakes are a bit higher now. Luke, in his fourth season with the Maple Leafs, has 3 assists and a plus-1 rating in seven games as Toronto, which enters the game third in the Eastern Conference, looks for its second straight win. Brayden, playing his third game since being recalled from the AHL, has no points and a minus-3 rating as he tries to help the Flyers snap a two-game losing streak.

"The Western Hockey League is great, but there's nothing like the NHL," Luke said. "It's something you dream of as a kid growing up, something you always work towards. Not many dreams like this come true, so it's a pretty cool feeling for us. We're very fortunate and lucky."

Mom and dad, however, aren't nearly as calm. Rita said Monday's game "is a little bit more nerve-wracking, for sure" than the 2008 meeting.

Jeff Schenn told his sons he wished there could be a one-time rule change for this game.

"My dad was saying he wished it was the old rules where you could still end up in a tie," Luke said. "That's what he was hoping for."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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