WASHINGTON, D.C. – Brotherly love.
That’s what holds most important for Jack and Quinn Hughes, a pair of highly-touted NHL prospects entering the league full-time in 2019-20.
“It’s going to be pretty cool coming into the league at the same time as him,” Jack said at the NHLPA Rookie Showcase on Aug. 25. “We’ll be battling for Rookie of the Year, too, so that’s another thing we’ve talked about.”
The Hughes brothers are a rare commodity. Jack, the 2019 first-overall pick, is poised to become one of the faces of the New Jersey Devils franchise; while older brother Quinn wrapped up his second NCAA season at Michigan before turning pro and playing five games with Vancouver last season. This season he will play an integral role in the Canucks’ revamped blue line.
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Even though both are quite different in the way they play, they are one and the same. They stand at the same height (5-10) and weight (170 pounds), display the same collectedness when discussing the pressure on their shoulders and, ultimately, boast the same pride for each other.
When asked about their sibling rivalry – which is, of course, to be expected as two brothers close in age take over the league – both smiled and laughed with Jack adding, “That night [we get to play each other] will be crazy for sure, and big bragging rights.”
The two have been inseparable since they were young, from playing mini-sticks to rooming together on the road. While they admit they’re close, they did have their moments growing up when it came to competition. They’d argue, not keep up their end of deals and eventually had to take to recording their handshakes when a bet was made.
“Definitely a couple fights if someone lost. There was cheating in [games], especially in ping pong, always something going on,” Quinn laughed. “At the same time, it wasn’t too competitive; we were always having fun with it. It wasn’t too serious, we enjoy our time together.”
The hockey bloodline runs deep in the Hughes family. Younger brother Luke is a defenseman on the rise set to play for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program’s U18 team this coming season. Their father, Jim, was a captain for Providence College’s men’s ice hockey team, an assistant coach for the Boston Bruins and the director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mom Ellen played internationally for the U.S. team and also played college hockey, soccer and lacrosse at the University of New Hampshire, where she later coached.
“[Our] parents were huge, taught us everything we know,” Jack said. “Really good sports system. Both my mom and my dad great hockey minds and helped us out a ton.”
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The two grew up playing in Toronto and the Michigan area, with their parents driving them to and from the rink, viewing NHL games together and teaching them the fundamentals of the game. Eventually, they worked their way up the ranks of the NTDP.
Taken seventh overall in the 2017 NHL Draft by Vancouver, Quinn racked up 62 points in 69 games as a Wolverine, scoring nearly a point-per-game. He closed out 2018-19 with the Canucks, impressing in a five-game trial, posting three goals and an even plus/minus rating. This season, he’s expected to join the Canucks’ top 4.
Jack followed in his brother’s footsteps with USA Hockey – but as a forward – breaking multiple scoring records and surpassing Clayton Keller (190 points) as the program’s new all-time scoring leader (228 points). His outstanding play, flashiness and speed made him the league’s top prospect with lofty expectations.
“When he got drafted, it was really cool and one of the best nights of my life . . . for his goal or his dream to finally reach there, I was really relieved and happy for him, and he deserved it,” Quinn reflected.
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Heading into October, the two are less focused on the rivalries or storylines surrounding them and more so on pushing each other to play a strong 82-game rookie campaign. Despite being in different conferences – and approximately 3,000 miles apart – the two will, of course, remain close as they go through the growing pains together with Quinn noting they’re not just brothers but best friends.
“He’s kind of been attached to my hip the last little bit,” said Jack. “It’s awesome. We’re really proud of each other. We’re really tight.”
Just how tight will be tested when the Canucks visit the Devils on Sat., Oct. 19 and Vancouver hosts New Jersey on Sun., Nov. 10.
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