Sam Reinhart: Hockey and family both intertwined and separate

After a hockey game at the RecPlex in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Sam Reinhart makes sure to call his parents Paul and Theresa.

“The biggest thing about them is it’s never all about hockey, and it never will be. Even at the dinner table, its rarely about hockey. Its definitely nice getting a break and its definitely helpful. We’re not so focused on it and it’s not consuming us too much,” says Sam.

The 18-year-old will be a top pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. He’s been electric for the Kootenay Ice in the WHL. He broke the century point mark in just 60 games; missing part of the year to play for Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship.

In the playoffs, he has undoubtedly excelled. He dominated the first round against the Calgary Hitmen, notching five goals and 12 assists leading the Ice to a series win in six games. He’s since added to that, earning 23 points in just 11 playoff games.

He’s leading the sixth place Ice into deep waters on a Western Hockey League playoff run. They have a chance tonight to tame the Medicine Hat Tigers in Game 6 to set up a Conference Championship match-up with Reinhart’s brother Griffin and the first place Edmonton Oil Kings.

Paul and Theresa may be torn choosing who to cheer for in the stands, but their oldest son Max, getting set for a playoff run of his own, with the Abbotsford Heat in the American Hockey League, will likely be siding with his former team, the Ice.

Max was there in Kootenay to welcome Sam as a 16-year-old for his rookie year, both to the team and to their billet family, the Hoaths.

“We were always doing stuff together,” says Sam of the three brothers growing up in West Vancouver, British Columbia. “Even now to this day whether it’s tennis, golf, or whatever it may be. Growing up we had the play room upstairs. If it wasn’t hockey, we were creating games, and always being active.”

The Reinhart family is hockey royalty when it comes to Western Canada. Patriarch Paul played 11 seasons in the NHL wearing the same number 23 as Sam. Max is a prospect for his dad’s former team the Calgary Flames, and Griffin is a fourth-overall selection of the New York Islanders.

Sam doesn’t see the prolific lineage as something that is hard to follow, but rather a benefit.

“I enjoy it,” says Sam. “I think it makes it a lot easier on me. I don’t view it as pressure. I just look at it as my family loves doing the same thing I do, and is trying to excel at it as well.”

Max and Griffin made sure at times growing up to remind Sam he was the youngest and smallest of the three headed hockey monster, the way only a brother can. It’s something Sam may be using as motivation to be selected higher than any Reinhart before him.

“Maybe a little,” laughs Sam. “At the end of the day it’s just one day and I’m sure they’ll be just as happy for me, if I go higher than them. We definitely joke about it now and then, but they’re rooting for me just as much and it’s definitely nice having them gone through that as well.”

If any member of the Reinhart family were nervous on NHL Draft Day three-of-three, Sam says mother Theresa is the calming force, despite the lack of limelight.

“She’ll be thrilled you asked [about her]. She’s definitely been huge in all of our careers,” says Sam. “The biggest decision growing up is Western League or NCAA. We all went through that decision and she was obviously a big part of it and supported us. She made us think about it a little more than we would have without her, which was definitely helpful. You definitely start seeing the positives in what we chose and we’re happy with it.”

In a hockey family, she may not be the most recognizable, but Sam confirms, like most, she is the figurative root keeping the family tree grounded.

“Mom’s always been there to support us and she still watches all our games with our dad. After a game it’s more talking to our dad about hockey, but it’s just as important to talk to our mom about something else, and really stop thinking about hockey. In our family she gets a lot of the credit.”

There is sure to be a family dinner on June 27th after Sam and his family hear his name called in Philadelphia.

But on perhaps the biggest day of his career, conversation at the dinner table won’t be about hockey, it rarely is with them.