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Hughes vs. Hughes: The NHL's new first family

october 18, 2019
Sibling rivalry or siblings playing nicely together, these things are nothing new in the NHL. The Staal brothers, the Espositos, the Niedermayers, the Sedins, we've seen it before. Now, all eyes will be on the Hughes brothers, Jack and Quinn this Saturday, as the brothers faceoff for the first time against one another at the NHL level.

Jack Hughes, the younger of the two at just 18 years old, was selected first overall in the 19-20 NHL draft by the New Jersey Devils. The young center was rated by ESPN as the No. 1-ranked NHL affiliated prospected heading into this season. His older brother Quinn, who just turned 20 on Monday, is a defenseman who was drafted seventh overall in the 18-19 NHL draft by the Vancouver Canucks. Quinn was also ranked by ESPN as the No. 4-ranked NHL-affiliated prospect to start the season. The young brothers are both viewed as legitimate candidates to win the Calder Trophy this year.

This will be only the second time the two young stars take the ice against one another. A little over a year ago, Jack led the U.S. national under-18 team to a 6-3 victory over his older brothers University of Michigan squad. Jack would finish that game having pocketed 3 points. That game, however, began on a much friendlier note, as Quinn left his spot guarding the blue line to take the games opening faceoff against his younger brother.

It seems unlikely that Saturday's 1pm (ET) bout will begin on the same joyous note. Things have become far more serious, being at the NHL level, especially for Jack. The Devils No. 1 pick was held without a point through New Jersey's first six games. It wouldn't be until the seventh game of the season, and the Devils first win that Jack would register his first point, an assist against the New York Rangers this past Thursday evening.

Quinn, however, is getting off to a stronger start. He appeared in five games last season, where he registered three assists. He has also netted his first NHL goal and two assists through the Canucks first six games of the season. After finding the back of the net in Vancouver's home opener, Quinn was bombarded with reporters and the topic of conversation quickly became that of his younger brothers lack of overall production. When asked if Quinn currently held the family's bragging rights he was quoted as saying "I think that would be kind of childish." -- A clear glimpse at the demeanor of a protective older brother.

Their father, Jim Hughes noted to the media "Quinn's got a big heart, and he's very thoughtful. No one is a bigger fan of Jack than Quinn."

Jim and his wife Ellen have tried to provide space for their two young superstars as they transition into the NHL, as this will quite possibly be the biggest year of their hockey lives thus far. This is the first time the Hughes brothers are not within a reasonable driving distance of their family home. Quinn, who is now living on his own in Vancouver, has a bit more experience on his own, leaving the family home to play for the U.S. National Team Development Program, in addition to living on campus at the University of Michigan. Younger brother Jack, who now lives with Devils net-minder Cory Schneider, left home for the first time to head to New Jersey.

Having both sons on opposite sides of the continent surely makes it difficult for Jim and Ellen to make it to games. Jim has yet to be able to see Quinn live since he began playing for Vancouver, and has only attended two Devils games to see Jack.

"Quite frankly, it's been more productive because we just stay at home and have one big computer, a smaller computer and then a big TV and we've got all the games right there," says Jim.

That all changes this Saturday, as Jim, Ellen and 70 of their closest friends and family members will be in attendance at the Prudential Center for the NHL's first Hughes vs. Hughes matchup.

Youngest brother Luke, however, will not be in attendance, as he will be playing with the U.S. national under-17 team in their USHL game against the Chicago Steel. Luke, youngest son of Jim and Ellen, is also off to the start of a fantastic career on the ice, having posted nine points in nine games. Like his oldest brother Quinn, Luke is a smooth skater, with a knack for netting points and defending the blue line. Young Luke will be eligible for the 2021 NHL draft.

The Hughes parents are only offering advice to the boys when asked, and thus far have been very happy with the way their sons are performing. Jim was quoted as saying "It's a journey. It's not a track race. It's learning to play the game the right way. This is the bigger picture. It's not just one night, or two nights or three nights. We're really happy where the boys are at right now and we'll support them any way we can."

One thing is for sure, the loudest cheers in the Prudential Center on Saturday will be for No. 43 and No. 86, in the first meeting of what the two brothers have dreamt of and worked towards their entire lives. This will undoubtedly be a moment that the Hughes family will not soon forget.

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