Reinhart sons lean on each other and their dad as they forge hockey careers
Friday, Apr 04, 2014 12:15 pm
With two sons on a collision course in the Western Hockey League playoffs and another son on the verge of a post-season in the pros, former NHL defenceman Paul Reinhart is thankful for technology.
Cellphone apps and online streaming of games make it easier to keep track of all three of his kids. The hockey stakes are high at this time of the year.
"As a hockey player, you play your whole year to get to this point," Reinhart says from Vancouver. "It really is an exciting time of the year.
"I'm envious of them having the opportunity to experience that. It would be disappointing if they hadn't made the playoffs. To have some success in the playoffs is even more thrilling and rewarding."
It has happened where Reinhart had one son's game on television and the two others' live streaming on two different computer screens. Eldest son Max compares it to the NHL's nerve centre in Toronto.
"You can kind of say it's like the Toronto war room a bit," Max says. "He's always been committed to watching every one of our games. My mom too."
Max, 22, is a draft pick of the Calgary Flames, with whom Paul spent eight of his 11 NHL seasons. Max plays centre for the AHL's Abbotsford Heat, who are poised to make the playoffs.
Second son Griffin, a first-round choice of the New York Islanders and a 20-year-old defenceman, is in the final stage of his major junior career with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Youngest son Sam, a highly ranked forward for the NHL's June draft, is the 18-year-old captain of the Kootenay Ice.
Should the Oil Kings and Ice win their current second-round playoff series against Brandon and Medicine Hat respectively, Griffin and Sam would meet for a third straight year in the WHL post-season.
"I think we're used to it now," Griffin says. "We've done it for a couple of years, but the last couple of years have been in the first round and playing against him in the conference championships would be a lot of fun.
"That speaks highly of Sam's team as well. But first off, we've got to focus on Brandon and try to get past that series."
The Oil Kings are up 1-0 against Brandon and the Ice open their series against Medicine Hat on Saturday.
Griffin's Oil Kings eliminated Sam's Ice in the first round each of the last two years. Max and Sam were Ice teammates on the losing end of the series in 2012 when the Oil Kings went on to win the WHL title.
Should the younger Reinhart sons square off again this post-season, the first person Sam expects to see when he comes off the bench is Griffin.
"There's not too many times we're on the ice without the other one there," Sam says. "It's challenging to say the least. I think if you ask him the same thing, he'll tell you its exhausting.
"We definitely match up against each other a lot. He's a big, strong guy who can move the puck and skate. He's a tough guy to play against, but it's always fun because of the relationship we have."
With all three sons playing a high level of hockey, there are parallels with the Sutters and Staals. The Reinhart sons don't view their clan as unique.
"We've grown up in this family and it seems pretty normal," Griffin says. "We wouldn't know what another family is like."
"Like Griffin said, we don't know what it's like otherwise," Sam adds. "We can say it's definitely helpful and makes it more enjoyable having family that's going through the same things you are. It definitely makes it more exciting when you cross paths and it provides a little break to see how the others are doing throughout the year."
"I don't know the Staals personally," Max continues. "I know we have similarities because everyone in the family plays hockey. For me growing up, whatever I did, my brothers wanted to do. They're just as good, if not better at some things.
"That kept us really close because we have the same interests."
Paul had little to do with hockey for a decade after retiring at the age of 29 with back problems. His sons pulled him back into the game.
He coached his kids, played in alumni games and now provides a sounding board for his sons as they forge their careers. Max, Griffin and Sam text each other often and each talks with Paul or his wife Theresa after almost every game.
"If I happen to have seen (their games) they might have a specific question, but typically their self-assessment is very good," Paul says.
"All three of my boys are particularly good about being competitive in the moment and shortly thereafter it's kind of in the past. There's not a lot of dwelling on both the positive and the negative.
"Having had the benefit of playing at that level, I truly understand the importance of forgetting about what went good or bad very quickly thereafter and get ready for the next one."
Paul played a season for the Atlanta Flames before the franchise moved to Calgary. The Flames traded him to Vancouver the season prior to winning the Stanley Cup in 1989. Paul's final two years in the NHL were with the Vancouver Canucks before retiring in 1990.
Now 54, the Reinhart patriarch is a venture capital investor in Vancouver. Paul says he and Theresa don't set their schedule around their sons' games, but chances are good if they're out for dinner, one of them is playing a game somewhere.
He'll sneak peeks at his cellphone, relay the news to Theresa and then catch up with a recorded game at home.
"Your always running into conflicts in terms of when they're playing, but with technology these days you can fast forward to their shifts so you can watch a game very quickly," Paul says.
Paul retired before Max was born, but the sons have watched their father's games.
"All the ESPN classics, we've watched some as a family when they're on TV," Sam says. "It's always funny to see how much the game has changed and the biggest thing we laugh at is his beard for sure. He had a big beard when he played.
"We've unfortunately never seen that around the house."
Paul says Max is the outwardly competitive one, Griffin more laid-back and Sam quietly competitive. The sons say their games carry traits of their father's.
"I think the way we think the game is very similar," Sam says. "We have the same skating styles too, deceptive speed and the hockey sense comes into play from all the talks we've had, just learning the game from him over the years. It's definitely had an impact on my game."
The Reinharts may appear a hockey-saturated family, but Paul says that's not the case.
"We're not all-consumed by it," he says. "You go to the rink and play. When you're there, you perform and you do what you need to do. The rest of the time, quite frankly, at this stage in their careers, there's a tremendous amount of down time and rest time that's required.
"Theresa and I would like to think we've raised some nice kids. They just happen to be good hockey players as well."