Draft order dictates that forwards Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko will forever be linked, compared and contrasted as the one-two punch of a strong class of new NHLers and the fresh faces of the Hudson River Rivalry between the Metropolitan clubs.
But while the cross-river competition will surely provide plenty of fodder for years to come, that’s not the rivalry Hughes was talking about during his appearance on Hockey Central at Noon on Monday. The matchup he’s most looking forward to is more of a family affair.
Hughes’s older brother, defenceman Quinn Hughes, was drafted seventh overall by the Vancouver Canucks last year and made the leap to the NHL late last season for a five-game stint following the end of his college campaign with the University of Michigan. The rivalry will grow in a few years when youngest brother Luke, who’s already drumming up interest for 2022, makes his debut. The three brothers spent many of their formative years playing hockey in Toronto, as dad Jim Hughes worked for the Maple Leafs as director of player development from 2009 to ’15, and could very well be one of the game’s next royal families.
“Whatever it is, there’s always a rivalry,” he said of growing up with older brother Quinn and younger brother Luke in a sports-loving household. “It’s always super competitive, whatever it is in the house. We could be doing the most pointless thing, but we still want to win.
“I think that’s what’s gotten us to the point we’re at, how competitive our household was growing up. I’m really thankful it was like that. I know it’ll be awesome next year playing Quinn in Vancouver — that’s a game that I’m going to mark on my calendar, and really want to win.”
The NHL released its full list of home openers last week, and is set to unveil the full 2019-20 regular season schedule this week — have your highlighters ready.
Here are a few other quotes from Monday’s chat:
On now-teammate Taylor Hall:
“I know him a little bit. I don’t know him too well but I know he’s a really nice guy and obviously a great player. I train with him a little bit in the summer, text him a little bit. I’m really excited to join his team.”
On who he watched growing up:
“I loved the Leafs, obviously rooted for Kessel, van Riemsdyk, Bozak, all those kinds of guys. But I think my favourite players were probably Crosby and Kane growing up, always watching the Penguins when they were in town and the Hawks when they were in town. Those were two of the guys I loved to watch play.”
On his cross-border upbringing:
“I’m really proud to say I was an American that grew up in Canada. I think that’s really cool. A lot of my friends are Canadians. I spent a lot of good years up there with a lot of great memories. Obviously I don’t think I’d be the player I am today without Toronto. It was an awesome spot for us to grow up.”