Earlier this month, twenty-two year old goaltender Jonah Imoo signed a professional tryout contract with the top minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, the American Hockey League's Ontario Reign. Imoo had solid but unspectacular numbers in junior hockey, playing for the BCHL's Powell River Kings and Merritt Centennials before playing briefly last season for the SPHL's Louisiana Ice Gators and the FHL's Port Huron Prowlers.
Oh, and Jonah's father? Dusty Imoo, the Kings' goaltender development coach who played professionally in the North American minor league circuits before a long career in Japan, ending in 2005-06. Imoo also played in the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics for the Japanese host squad, playing well for an undermanned team (including beating Austria in a shootout).
This would all be an interesting footnote for the Imoos, were it not for the goaltending depth concerns of the parent Kings. On October 12, all-star goaltender Jonathan Quick went down with a knee injury, and earlier today Jeff Zatkoff was felled with an undisclosed issue. So for today's game against Vancouver, the Kings' goaltenders will be Peter Budaj and Jack Campbell. And when the Ontario Reign faces the San Jose Barracuda? Jonah Imoo will be in net, with Dusty Imoo on the bench.
To my knowledge, this is the first instance in professional hockey at any level where a father and son have been the dressed goaltenders for the same team.
Passing Down the PadsThere have been many parent/child combinations in professional hockey, and quite a few of those have involved goaltenders on one end of the equation. Hank Bassen and Emile Francis both had sons who played in the NHL as well, and Ron Hextall was the third generation of Hextall in the bigs. Bert Lindsay was a founding goaltender in the NHL, and his son (Ted Lindsay) was a Hall of Famer. Gilles Meloche and Rogie Vachon each had sons who played in the NHL. Sometimes the connections skip a generation - Glenn Hall's grandson played in the NHL. Let's not forget that Sidney Crosby's father, Troy Crosby, was a QMJHL goaltender in the 1980s.
And of course, there have been five instances where both father and son donned the goaltender's equipment at the National Hockey League level.
The first father/son combination in the National Hockey League nets was Sam LoPresti and his son, Pete LoPresti.
Sam LoPresti was one of the first great American-born goaltenders, spending two seasons with the Chicago Black Hawks in the early 1940s before heading off to serve in World War Two. In early March of 1941, Sam faced an amazing 83 shots on goal from the Boston Bruins, falling by a 3-2 score to fellow Evelethian Frank Brimsek (it should be noted here that although LoPresti was raised in Eveleth, he was born in nearby Elcor). That game was not the top of Sam's heroic list, however - in World War Two, he spent 42 days in a lifeboat before being rescued.
After playing at the University of Denver, the younger LoPresti made his National Hockey League debut on November 14, 1974, for his home state Minnesota North Stars in Buffalo. LoPresti played parts of five seasons for a very bad North Stars club before being selected by the expansion Edmonton Oilers in 1979 (just missing the North Stars' trip to the 1981 Stanley Cup final). Pete also got the chance to represent his country at the 1976 Canada Cup, losing to the host Canadians but beating Finland.
Next to join the LoPrestis on the father/son scale were Dennis and Pat Riggin. Dennis Riggin was largely a casualty of the six-team NHL, playing a total of eighteen games for the Detroit Red Wings behind Terry Sawchuk, but was a mainstay for the Western Hockey League's Edmonton Flyers between 1955 and 1963.
Pat Riggin joined the National Hockey League on October 13, 1979, after a solid pedigree in the OMJHL, and then followed the franchise as it moved to Calgary. Riggin's probably best known for his work with the Washington Capitals, before finishing his career in Boston and Pittsburgh. In 1983-84, Riggin was named to the league's second all-star team for his work.
After a solid four-year career with the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association, Ron Grahame came to the Boston Bruins, who already had two quality starters in Gerry Cheevers and Gilles Gilbert. Yet, Grahame was called upon during two long periods without Cheevers, including carrying the freight for the Bruins between mid-February and early April, 1978:
The Bruins would fall in the 1978 Stanley Cup Finals to dynastic Montreal, and the Bruins decided that they didn't need three NHL goaltenders. So Grahame was traded to Los Angeles for a first-round selection in a strong 1979 entry draft, and now Ron may be best known for being the player traded for the draft pick that became Ray Bourque.
Grahame would play nearly three years for the Kings before finishing his career in Quebec, and then AHL Binghamton.
Born in Denver in 1975 to Ron and Charlotte, John Grahame was selected by the Boston Bruins in the 1994 entry draft, and on October 4, 1999, Grahame made his National Hockey League debut against Toronto. Grahame made NHL stops in Boston, Tampa Bay, and Carolina (and also dressed for Colorado and the Islanders). Grahame was a member of the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Lightning, making him part of the first mother/son Stanley Cup champion pair (Charlotte, an executive for the Colorado Avalanche, has her name on the Stanley Cup as a member of the 2001 club).
Many people talk of the Sutter family, but Bob Johnson may be the true center of hockey family. His father-in-law is Hall of Fame center Sid Abel, and his son is goaltender Brent Johnson.
Both Johnsons played for both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues, with the elder appearing between December 1972 and April 1975 before moving to the rival World Hockey Association. His son also played for Phoenix and Washington in his NHL career, and claims that the two were quite different in net. "He and I are totally two different entities when it comes to personalities on and off the ice," Johnson said in a September 2009 interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We had different demeanors out on the ice. He was tougher. He wouldn't take any stuff in front of the net. I used to be that way, but, if you want to play a long time, you've got to be calm in there as much as you can."
With that said, the younger Johnson also participated in his share of fisticuffs, notably against the Islanders' Rick DiPietro and Micheal Haley.
One of the most underrated netminders of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Bob Sauve played for the Buffalo Sabres between October 1976 and April 1985 (with a brief intermission with the Detroit Red Wings), before ending his career in Chicago and New Jersey. Sauve's first stint in Buffalo was his best, piling up 59 wins and some low goals-against averages for the club. Sauve's brother, Jean-Francois Sauve, also played in the NHL, and in a neat bit of foreshadowing, the Sabres' 1980-81 media guide said that "Bob's wife Johanne gave birth to the couple's first baby, possibly a future goaltender, last winter."
That possible future goaltender was Philippe Sauve, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the 1998 entry draft. Sauve saw emergency backup action for three straight seasons with the Avalanche, before breaking into the league on the ice in October of 2003. Sauve would see action with the Avalanche, Flames, Coyotes, and Boston Bruins, and got the chance to portray Boston Bruins goaltender Jim Henry in the 2005 film Maurice Richard.
This list focused on National Hockey League combinations (where both players suited up in the big leagues), but I'd love to complie a more complete list including minor leaguers. Who did I forget? Send me a note at email@example.com with your goaltenders, and I'd love to hear from you.