Monday, May 13, 2024

Team Big Brother vs. Team Little Brother: Who wins a battle between NHL stars?

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, which was hopefully a pleasant day for you and your family and/or explains why your wife seems like she's mad at you today. It also seems like as good a day as any to honor all those hockey moms out there by tackling a simple question sent in by a reader.

Pekka L. wants to know: Who’d win, a team made up of NHL big brothers, or little brothers?

Sounds fun. But first, a few ground rules™:

- We’re building 21-man rosters, with four lines of forwards, three defense pairings and three goalies. We’ll try to slot in wingers with centers, but won’t get too hung up on position.

- To be eligible, a player must have a brother who played in the NHL for at least 100 games.

- I’m only going back to the Original Six era, because otherwise we wind up with a bunch of guys that a lot of you have never heard of. Apologies to the Cooks, Conachers and Cleghorns.

- In cases where three or more brothers all played in the NHL, the middle children will be ignored, which they should be used to.

You may have noticed that 100-game limit that we slipped in there. That takes out some big names like Wayne Gretzky (whose brother Brent played only 13 games), Gordie Howe (whose brother Vic played 33) and Patrick Roy (whose brother Stephane played 12). Maybe that feels arbitrary, or like it violates the spirit of the thing. But here’s the deal: If we don’t put that limit in, we’re not going to have a contest. Team Big Brother would absolutely destroy Team Little Brother. It wouldn’t be a contest. There are just a ton of NHL stars who had younger brothers show up for a cup of coffee and then disappear.

Why? I have two theories. The first is that older siblings are clearly superior to their coddled, snot-nosed little wannabes. But more importantly, I think there’s some clear cause-and-effect here, with teams over-drafting or signing younger brothers of star players in hopes that genetics will kick in. If you see a guy like Sergei Fedorov or Paul Kariya tearing up the league, why not roll the dice on their kid brother? It works sometimes, usually it doesn’t, and it screws up our contest if we don’t account for it. So yeah, a 100-game limit is in play.

This will be fun, because athlete brothers always enjoy a spirit of friendly competition and oh no it’s started already. Let’s build from the net out and see where this goes

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