Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Power of Brotherhood

     On Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricanes signed right winger Jared Staal to a one-year, two-way deal. The two-way part is Staal making $550,000 on the NHL level or $60,000 at the minor league level this season. He spent most of last season in the minors before making his NHL debut on April 25. So why is this news significant?
     Well, it's because of the fact that Jared Staal isn't the only Staal playing for the Carolina Hurricanes. He'll get to play alongside his brothers Eric and Jordan. Eric Staal is the team captain of the Canes while Jordan Staal is a forward. Jared is the youngest of four Staal brothers and his April 25th debut marked the fourth time in league history that three brothers played for the same team during the same season.
     So does the strategy of literal kinship on a team actually work? Well, Eric Staal did have 53 points (18 goals, 35 assists) in a lockout-shortened season last year. That was good enough for sixth in the league. He also averaged 1.10 points per game last year in an average time on ice of 21 minutes, which was good for Carolina. On the other hand, his brother Jordan didn't fare as well. He amassed only 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) last year while having a plus/minus rating of -18. He averaged almost as much ice time as his brother Eric, having been on the ice for an average of 20:06. Considering that Jared Staal hasn't seen much ice time in his career, you can say that the glass is half full for the brotherly experiment. But at least they aren't the Upton brothers of the Atlanta Braves.
     Both B.J. and Justin Upton were signed by the Atlanta Braves this offseason in hopes of boosting the lineup that would be without a retiring Chipper Jones for the first time in almost two decades. The Braves are currently in first place in the NL East, holding a six-game lead over the Nats (largest in baseball). This is in spite of the Upton brothers, who have underachieved for most of the season for Atlanta. Justin Upton did get off to a hot start, batting .298 with 12 home runs and 19 RBIs for the month of April. But he has cooled off since then, batting .255 with 16 home runs and 45 RBIs. His brother hasn't been too successful, either. B.J. Upton is currently batting .177 with eight home runs and twenty RBIs. In fact, the brothers have combined for a whopping 202 strikeouts this season.
     Other examples of brotherly companionship on the same team includes Cal and Billy Ripken (Both played together for the Baltimore Orioles from 1987 to 1992) and Phil and Joe Niekro (Both pitched together for the Atlanta Braves from 1973 to 1974 and both reunited with the New York Yankees in 1985). There's more out there, but these are a few of the examples of brothers playing on the same team. Remember, two (or more) heads are better than one!!

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