by Lisa McRitchie on 11/02/11 at 10:00 PM ET
Griffin Reinhart is the middle son of Paul Reinhart, former defenceman for the Calgary Flames. Griffin’s older brother Max is a centreman who like his father has also been drafted by the Calgary Flames and his younger brother Sam is also a centreman and days away from his 16th birthday and so still a few years away from his 2014 draft year. Max was selected in the third round, Griffin is projected to go top ten and even now Sam is said to possible go in the top five. The Reinhart family is quite the incredible story.
Currently, Max and Sam play for the Kootenay ice while Griffin, the defenceman and the son with a two syllable name plays for the Edmonton Oil Kings and is off to a great start for his draft year season. Through eleven games, Griffin has scored two goals, four assists and is a plus two and a player attracting a lot of attention of himself.
Sam is jovial, easy to laugh and only serious when he needs to be, at this point. Max is serious and stoic and appears to be quite professional. Strangely enough, Griffin seems to fall somewhere in between. This could be a matter of where each brother is in their hockey career, but it is always interesting to see the differences in personality between the brothers and the other players of the WHL.
I was able to catch up with Griffin Reinhart when the Oil Kings hosted the Portland Winterhawks, still early in the season.
Griffin admits that he does feel a little like the odd man out; “A little bit, but my dad was also a defenceman. It’s good to have him on my side I guess.” No doubt this is something that Griffin is able to bring up with his other brothers when the situation calls for some ammunition to sibling rivalry.
It would be impossible for there not to be a little competition between the brothers. Sam has mentioned that he would like to be as big as Griffin, but Griffin doesn’t think that will happen. “I don’t think he’s got it in him, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Having two brothers that play in the same league, even though they play different positions on the ice, has also helped Griffin in the offseason. Griffin attributes his success this early in the season to “The hard work in the summer has paid off. I just skated with my brothers and working out all summer and that was a motivator for me.”
The differences between Max and Griffin are not just positional; Griffin has always been the big little brother to Max. So, when it comes to offseason training, the two have different focuses. “For Max, he’s skilled and he just has to get bigger,” Griffin says, “For me I’ve already got the size and maybe a little less skill than him.” With numbers like what Griffin is putting up, and the attention that has surrounded him for years, I’m not so sure that Griffin has less skill, but you can tell that Griffin cares for his brothers and holds a lot of respect for his older brother Max and what Max has done.
There is the matter of Max being a Calgary Flames prospect and Griffin playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings. Griffin already sees this as a battle of Alberta and was the first prospect I have spoken with that has come out and said he has a team he would like to be drafted by. For Griffin, it’s the Edmonton Oilers. “I think that would be pretty cool, not just against my brother because there would be a battle of Alberta now, but I’d also be against my dad as well because he was a Calgary pick. That would be pretty neat.”
Every player has a favourite team, or a place they would like to go for whatever reasons. Although the Reinhart brothers are from the Vancouver area Griffin has made Edmonton his home away from home through his time with the Oil Kings; “Playing for Edmonton would be a good situation for me, obviously being with the Oil Kings, and I watch the Oilers every day. It would feel like home to me. So, it would mean a lot to me.”
With that in mind, it might be difficult for Griffin to watch the Oilers play right now. The Scouting Report has Reinhart listed as 8th, and the Oilers are leading the western conference. Those two numbers don’t line up as is, but for the Oilers to go from worst to first by the end of the season doesn’t seem very likely, and most are convinced that this Oilers team will suffer a few set backs especially through November which will be played mainly on the road.
In the meantime, the draft is months away and Griffin isn’t putting much energy into thinking about that day in June. “Right now I’m just focused on this year and having a good strong year.” Griffin continued “I think I can play every game and not worry about it. I can go out and play and it’s not in the back of my mind, I can just focus. The draft is still a few months away so I might be feeling it a bit more towards the end of the year but I’m just trying to play right now, just go out there and do my best.” These are words of a true professional and someone who at 17 is already used to answering these questions and has been dreaming about an NHL entry draft of his own for years.
Griffin believes that what has gotten him this far is “Using my strength and positioning and maybe a good shot too I think; I’ve been using that. Making good first passes as well.”
In terms of how he sees himself as a player, Griffin says “A little bit of a two way, I’m not amazing offensively but I’ll put up some numbers and then pretty good defensively too. So I can put myself in all sorts of situations.”
Because Griffin never got to see his dad play at the NHL level, Paul Reinhart retired at the age of 29, well before his sons could watch him, and because Griffin’s brothers play forward, Griffin especially needs to turn to other influences in terms of his game development. “I think I’m a bit like Shae Weber and Chris Pronger; two good bigger defencemen who I think I play most like and want to be like.” Griffin is well aware of the fact that in this town, Pronger is a dirty words, and that he is not the most popular man. “No he’s not, but he’s a good player and I can’t argue that.”
The Oilers will have a variety of options when it comes their time to step up to the podium in Pittsburgh for the 2012 NHL entry draft, and it seems unlikely that the stars will align so that the Oilers would be in the perfect position to draft young Reinhart, but trades are always a possibility. If not, it is certain that whatever NHL team selects Reinhart will have themselves one talented defenceman with a strong hockey pedigree.
The Scouting Report has Griffin Reinhart listed at 8 and has the following to say as a summary:
Griffin Reinhart is a player that has a lot of hockey tools going for him. Big frame, smooth skater, above average shot, to go along with a solid first pass. For someone 6’4″ he has really good mobility. The key for Reinhart this year will be to take one of those skills and make it elite, then GMs and scouts alike will salivate at the potential. Other things Reinhart will have to work on is understanding coverages and working on using his body to separate man from puck. He will get an opportunity to be featured on the top pairing for the Oil Kings this season if he keeps progressing like he has up to this point. He has the pedigree to be a top pairing Dman, he just needs to tighten up his game and bring it all together.
In the meantime, Griffin Reinhart is an important member of the Edmonton Oil Kings and plays a vital role in the team’s success and plans for this year. The first priority for Griffin this year is helping his team to reach the WHL playoffs this spring.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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