As soon as you hit another [brother], you start hearing mom's voice right away. It's not a nice voice. - Max Reinhart on playing against his siblings
There's a rule in the Reinhart household: Don't hit your brother too hard playing hockey.
Paul Reinhart, who spent 11 seasons in the NHL with the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks, may have helped institute the rule. But the job of enforcing it typically falls on his wife, Theresa.
"I don't think our mom would let us back in the house," middle brother Griffin Reinhart told NHL.com. "She's definitely let us know she wouldn't like [us hitting each other]."
With three siblings following in their father's NHL footsteps, enforcing that rule is about to become difficult.
The fourth pick in the 2012 NHL Draft by the New York Islanders, Griffin is used to playing against his two brothers. Max Reinhart is two years older than Griffin and was the Calgary Flames' third-round pick (No. 64) in the 2010 draft. Sam Reinhart is two years younger than Griffin and was selected second by the Buffalo Sabres at the 2014 draft.
Griffin, who spent the past four seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, played a number of games against his brothers, who were linemates for a full season with the Kootenay Ice.
In fact, Sam's first WHL game, as a 15-year-old in 2010, was alongside Max and against Griffin, who at the time was 12 games into his junior career. All three brothers were in the starting lineup that night and their parents were in the stands. Setting the stage for a decorated junior career, Sam scored the winning goal on a shift against Griffin.
"It was a pretty special night. It was even more special for Sam. Not a lot of families get an opportunity like that," Max Reinhart said. "Sam played his 16-year-old year and we were on a line together for most of that year. So we got a lot of time to play with each other. Obviously [it was] one of the better years of my hockey career."
Playing together with Kootenay in 2011-12 didn't just help Max and Sam excel on the ice. It bridged a four-year age gap that sometimes can seem like an eternity between teenaged brothers.
"I think we had a lot of fun with it. We got a lot closer that year just because we lived in the same house with the same billet family and played on the same line," Max said. "Just had a lot of fun for my last year of junior and his first year. I tried to teach him some things."
Along with the lessons, Sam gained an appreciation for how hard it is to get to the NHL. That especially was the case after Max made his American Hockey League debut that summer with Calgary's affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat.
"He's been great for Griffin and myself. He probably had a tougher path and made it a lot easier on us," Sam said. "We have so much to give to him for that. It's been pretty nice to watch him develop from a young age to now and really learn."
It was Griffin who got the last laugh that season, when Edmonton swept Kootenay in the first round of the 2012 WHL playoffs. With Max playing in the AHL the following season, Edmonton eliminated Kootenay in five games in the first round of the 2013 playoffs.
Griffin's impressive WHL career came to a close when he captained Edmonton to the 2014 Memorial Cup championship. It was another milestone in a remarkable season for the Reinharts. Max enjoyed his most productive NHL stint, with two assists in four games with Calgary in March, and he led Abbotsford in scoring and earned the team's Fan Favorite Award.
Then came Sam's big night in June, when the Sabres picked him second, a spot that could help earn the youngest brother an opening-night spot on a rebuilding roster.
"I hope he's not going to have that same kind of path [I had]. He's shown a lot of people that he's pretty close to making the jump if not ready this year," Max said. "I know he can and will have a much different path to the NHL than the path that me and Griffin have taken so far."
With Sam a top prospect, Griffin done with his junior eligibility and Max coming off his most successful AHL season, all three brothers hope to crack an NHL roster this fall. It's a far cry from the neighborhood shinny games near their North Vancouver home.
"It would be great. I've never played against Max," Sam Reinhart said. "It would be exciting on a different stage at the NHL level. I think we'd handle it pretty well."
The topic of those potential matchups didn't come up when the brothers spent this summer together at the family home. Other than development camps and Sam's assorted post-draft travel obligations, all three lived, worked and trained together, preparing for a potential milestone season.
"We don't get to see each other a whole lot during the year while everyone is out in different cities playing on different teams, so it's nice to get in and catch up. [We were] training together and skating together all summer, had some good family time," Max said. "It's obviously becoming harder and harder with more responsibilities as we get older. I can't imagine us having too many summers together under the same roof like we've been fortunate enough to have the past couple of years. We're a pretty tight family and it's a nice time of year all to be together."
If each brother sticks with his respective NHL team, it could make for an eventful couple of months. The Sabres host the Flames on Dec. 11 and host the Islanders on Dec. 27. New York visits Calgary on Jan. 2, six days before Paul Reinhart celebrates his 55th birthday. The Sabres visit Calgary on Jan. 27, three days after Griffin turns 21. Four days after Max turns 23, the Islanders visit Buffalo on Feb. 8.
"As soon as Sam was drafted we hoped we could all make it. That would be pretty cool, to make the League at the same time," Griffin said. "Everyone in my family is trying to make the lineup. It's comforting having everyone around me trying to do the same thing."
So long as they remember the family rule.
"As soon as you hit another [brother], you start hearing mom's voice right away," Max said. "It's not a nice voice."
Author: Tal Pinchevsky | NHL.com Staff Writer