Friday, June 6, 2014
There's a new challenger for bragging rights within the Reinhart family.
When it came to playing hockey, Paul Reinhart, the family patriarch, had a gene that not many fathers have.
The Atlanta Flames selected Reinhart with the 12th overall pick in the 1979 NHL draft. Reinhart, a defenceman, played 11 seasons in the NHL, including two (1988-89 and 1989-90) with the Vancouver Canucks prior to retiring.
After not having to deal with the everyday stresses that come with playing the game at that level, whether it was dealing with the media, traveling, or just being away from family, Paul and his wife, Theresa, decided it was time to start a family.
It’s quite apparent that when Theresa and Paul, by then living in West Vancouver, decided to have children, that gene got passed along.
On Feb. 4, 1992, Theresa gave birth to a baby boy -- Max.
Just like his father, Max came to love hockey. Ultimately, he would follow in his father's footsteps.
Max was drafted by Calgary Flames with the 64th overall selection in the 2010 NHL draft. He turned pro prior to the 2012-13 season and has since split time between the Flames and their AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat, a franchise that is on the move to Glens Falls, N.Y., this offseason.
Theresa and Paul had their second son Griffin two years later, and he continued the family tradition. He would grow up to be a 6-foot-4, 215-pound WHL player who spent three seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings, reaching three championship finals and winning the 2014 Memorial Cup. He was one of the top defencemen eligible for the 2012 NHL draft and the New York Islanders selected him with the fourth-overall pick.
Griffin became the earliest-drafted member of the Reinhart family, an honour that he continues to hold.
But you see, the more children the family raised, the better the kid would become when he was given a stick and puck.
By the time Sam, the youngest of the three Reinhart boys, donned a Kootenay Ice sweater on a regular basis in 2011-12, scouts were of the opinion that he had a world of talent and they already were projecting him as a high pick in the 2014 NHL draft.
Sam finished that first season with 62 points, including 34 assists, in just 67 games and continued to improve the following season, this time finishing with 85 points in 72 games.
Not only were scouts convinced that he was going to be an early pick in his draft class, but many believed he was the favourite to be the first player selected.
However, when the mid-season rankings were released by the NHL Central Scouting on Jan. 13, Reinhart wasn't listed at No. 1.
The player in the No. 1 slot has the first name Sam, but his last name is Bennett, and he is a 17-year-old left-winger who plays for the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs.
Reinhart, on the other hand, was ranked at No. 4.
But those were only the mid-season rankings. There was still a chance that the scouts' opinions would change before they submitted their final rankings.
However, that didn't happen, and Bennett retained his spot.
Reinhart, who had finished with 105 points, including 36 goals, and was a plus-24 in 60 games, did move up to No. 3, though.
To Bennett's credit, he also has an impressive resume. He was the Frontenacs’ finalist for the Red Tilson Trophy, awarded to the OHL’s most outstanding player, after he finished with 91 points, including 55 assists, last season.
Bennett showed he had the right stuff at the NHL Combine, too.
The Combine is an annual event at which team have opportunities to meet with prospects prior to the draft on June 27 and 28.
“He's a two-way player,” Dean Malkoc, an amateur scout for the Boston Bruins, said. “He's a good skater, he competes every shift and doesn't take any nights off. He could be like (Chicago Blackhawks forward) Jonathan Toews at the end of the day, that's how good of a player the kid is. He's a kid with high character. There's really no red flags to the way he plays and the way he interviewed.
He's going to be right there with the top kids.”
That being said, when it came to the fitness portion of the Combine, Bennett failed to do a single pull-up.
“You know what, for a player like that, I'm really not concerned,” Malkoc stated. “I know that there is a lot of concern, but the way he plays on the ice and the way he competes and how effective his game is, it's a little surprising that he wasn't able to do a pull-up. But that only tells me there's room for improvement in his game and the most important thing to watch in a player like that is how he
competes every night and he really plays hard. So it was a little surprising but, at this point, I don't think it's really going to affect him because he's such a good and effective player.”
What is the difference between Reinhart and Bennett?
“Well, Reinhart is a very gifted play-making type of player,” Malkoc explained. “With the skill and hockey sense and the play-making ability that he has, you really can't teach. It's really a special gift. Bennett, on the other hand, is more of a complete player. I would say he is more of a two-way player... he plays hard and gritty. I'm not saying that Reinhart doesn't play hard or that doesn't play a
two-way game because I think his two-way game has come a long way.
“One player could be like a Jonathan Toews and the other might be an Adam Oates. Either way, you're getting a good player in either player.”
“When you get players like (Reinhart and Bennett), you're going to get top-line kids,” Malkoc continued. “They have to rate and rank (all the prospects) in a certain order. It's just the way some of the scouts interpret the game. To me, if either one of them went at (first overall), I wouldn't be surprised. This could be a little bit different of a draft, because there's no set No. 1 player. There's a whole group of players and any one could slip into that slot so it's all about which team is picking where and what their needs are, really.”
In which case who is selected first probably won't be known until draft day.
No matter what happens, though, Sam likely will have the Reinhart family bragging rights.
When all is said and done, it'll be Sam who will be able to say: “Out of my dad, and my two older brothers, I was the highest-drafted Reinhart.”
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