PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Hockey runs deep in the Reinhart household.
Paul Reinhart played 648 games as a defenceman with the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. And his sons are following in his footsteps.
Max was drafted in the third round—64th overall—in 2010 by the Flames. Griffin is expected to go in the first round in Friday's draft. And Sam, the WHL rookie of the year last season, is draft-eligible in 2014.
Griffin, 18, plays for the WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings. Sam and Max are teammates on the Kootenay Ice.
At six foot four and 202 pounds, Griffin has an NHL body—Paul calls him "a menacing presence." Add composure and you have a very promising package.
In his second year with the Oil Kings, Griffin had 12 goals, 24 assists and 38 penalty minutes in 58 games.
Paul remembers coaching Griffin on his midget team and catching a glimpse of what he calls "the whoosh factor."
"You're standing on the ice and all of a sudden this big body goes by you," he said. "It's almost like a barometric change.
"I remember thinking 'Wow, that was just Griffin.' Some guys have heavy shots, some guys have just got heavy presences out there and I think Griffin's a body that has that. And when you look at the way the NHL is played these days in the NHL, big bodies are really important."
Griffin knew how to use his size early on, according to his father.
"Just because you're big doesn't necessarily mean you know how to use it," he said. "But when you're that big and you have a presence out there, to understand how important body position is and what you can do with it, I knew he was going to do very, very well."
Griffin is ranked 10th among North American skaters in the final Central Scouting rankings. Defencemen Ryan Murray (Everett), childhood friend Morgan Rielly (Moose Jaw), Cody Ceci (Ottawa), Olli Maatta (London) and Jacob Trouba (U.S. under-18) are ahead of him in this defence-heavy draft crop.
Paul was a first-round pick of the Atlanta Flames, who chose him 12th overall in the 1979 draft and moved to Calgary a year later. Just five foot 11, Reinhart was a smooth-skating offensive defenceman who moved on to further success in the world of finance after hockey.
Griffin never saw his father play—he retired at 29 due to back problems—but he has seen him in action on NHL Classics TV replays. His immediate thought was how similar their styles were.
He says he doesn't feel pressure from the family name and says his father never pushed him towards hockey. The kids just fell in love with the sport on their own.
They talk to him after every game, a tradition that Griffin says has been "huge" for his development.
His advice to Griffin before the draft was just have fun with it. But Paul has more to offer on the subject.
"I think the big thing for these guys to recognize is that what happens in the next 24 hours, 48 hours has really nothing to do with your career," said the former NHLer. "Everything that you've done to date has put you in this position. And even that doesn't matter much. It's all about what you do afterwards."
"You're now graduating to a point where development will always be important but make no mistake, when you're being paid, winning is what is important. This (the draft) is a wonderful statement as to what you've done in the past, but going forward, to be successful in this game, you have to become a winner, you have to make sure that not just you continue to develop but you somehow develop those around you.
"And I think he's got the potential to do that. ... Almost every team he's played on has won."
If you're picked in the third round, go on and play as a first-rounder, says Paul.
"It's what he does after this," he said of Griffin. "It's what he does next year that matters."
Despite his glowing praise about his middle son, Paul acknowledges he thought Griffin's attitude was "indifferent" at 10 or 11 years old. Then he realized his son was just confident in his abilities.
"It couldn't be further from the truth," he said of his initial assessment. "And this year's playoffs certainly were a testament to that."
Paul had to watch his sons go head-to-head in the WHL playoffs as Edmonton played Kootenay.
"As a parent, it was very difficult to watch that," Paul said of Edmonton's 4-0 sweep.
The Oil Kings went on to beat Brandon (4-0), Moose Jaw (4-1) and Portland (4-3)—Griffin was plus-14—before losing to the eventual champion Shawinigan Cataractes in a tiebreaker at the Memorial Cup.
While Paul speaks of Griffin's poise and composure, he has also seen his son angry.
"Just get out of the way," he said. "But I'd say his angry is more get even than it is to be running around and yelling and screaming. He's not just that kind of guy."
On Thursday, Griffin had meetings set with Carolina, Minnesota, Winnipeg and Columbus.
He grew up watching Canucks as his hometown team, but "right now I'm pretty neutral."
Other players eligible for the draft with NHL connections include forward Henrik Samuelsson (son of Ulf Samuelsson), centre Alex Glachenyuk (son of Alexander Galchenyuk) and centre Stefan Matteau (son of Stephane Matteau).