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Hughes brothers serve up food to fans outside USA Hockey Arena

NHL rookies meet and greet fans while handing out meals from CJ's Brewing Company

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / staff writer

Quinn and Jack Hughes were serving up dinners and smiles for many of their biggest fans outside USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, on Friday.

As CJ's Celebrity Curbside volunteers, Quinn of the Vancouver Canucks, and Jack of the New Jersey Devils, spent two hours handing out takeout orders during a meet-and-greet outside CJ's Brewing Company at the arena. 

At one point, there were as many as 70 cars in queue waiting for an opportunity to meet the Hughes' brothers and retrieve their meal for the evening. 

John Wroblewski, who coached Quinn and Jack at USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, and USA Hockey media relations and broadcaster Pete Krupsky accompanied the brothers at the popular hangout after most arena events.

"It was just really cool to see a bunch of familiar faces and feel like a hockey community again," Wroblewski said. "I think it was really neat to see a lot of people coming to grab dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon. There were so many kids and they wanted to see their heroes, Quinn and Jack, who were really unbelievable. They went to every car, signed autographs, and talked to those in each car."

Since the NHL paused its season on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, Quinn and Jack have been living with their parents and youngest brother, Luke, in Michigan. 

Quinn spent two seasons (2015-18) at the Program and ranks sixth among Program defensemen with 77 points (17 goals, 60 assists) in 122 games. He finished third in scoring at the University of Michigan with 29 points (five goals, 24 assists) in 37 games as a freshman in 2017-18 and was chosen No. 7 by the Canucks in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Quinn leads all NHL rookies with 45 assists and 53 points in 68 games this season and is considered by many a candidate to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the Year. Jack has 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 61 games.

"They were very attentive, and it was impressive," Wroblewski said. "I know that's something that they're used to in their normal NHL lives and something they're probably missing. It probably helped them feel a little bit more normal by getting to interact with the fans again."

Jack spent two seasons (2017-19) at the NTDP and holds the Program career records for assists (154) and points (228) in 110 games. He was the fifth NTDP player chosen No. 1 in the NHL Draft (in 2019) and also was the first NTDP player to go directly from the draft to playing in the NHL with the Devils.

"It was really good to see the boys on their own, away from their families and get to see them as young men as opposed to the boys they were at the NTDP," Wroblewski said. "Their growth and the conversations you could have ... you're talking to them like one of your friends.

"They just grow up so fast that they've got this level of maturity about them and you can have adult conversations with them. I think that we'll all value our relationships more coming out of this (pandemic). If there's any silver lining for myself, it's how I'll value the little things even more than I did before."

Photos courtesy Rena Laverty (NTDP)

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