Quinn Hughes knows brother Jack is ready for NHL

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Gemma KARSTENS-SMITH

VAN­COU­VER — Quinn Hughes wasn’t about to give his younger brother much ad­vice head­ing into the NHL draft.

Sure, Hughes had been there be­fore, hav­ing been taken sev­enth over­all by the Van­cou­ver Canucks last year. But he knew his brother’s ex­pe­ri­ence was go­ing to be markedly dif­fer­ent.

Spec­u­la­tion had been rife for months that Jack Hughes would be this year’s No. 1 pick.

“It’s not a big dif­fer­ence but it is a big dif­fer­ence, the hype and every­thing like that,” Quinn said last week be­fore the big event.

“But I don’t think he’s needed much help or any­thing like that.” He didn’t.

Jack Hughes was first off the board on Fri­day night, se­lected by the New Jersey Devils. The broth­ers had, how­ever, talked about the pos­si­bil­ity of end­ing up on the same NHL team.

“Maybe down the road,” Jack said.

“Right now we’re go­ing to be look­ing for­ward to beat­ing each other next year.”

Canucks gen­eral man­ager Jim Ben­ning said Quinn Hughes did lobby to have Van­cou­ver switch picks and make a run at his brother.

“Yeah, I had con­ver­sa­tions, but they didn’t last long,” Ben­ning said.

Jack Hughes has drawn awe for his speed and style, but Quinn thinks there’s some­thing else that sets him apart.

“Ob­vi­ously he’s very skilled on the skat­ing, hockey sense, hands, every­thing like that. But how com­pet­i­tive he is, I’ve al­ways thought that’s the big dif­fer­ence in him. He doesn’t care who he’s play­ing, he’s go­ing to go at you,” Quinn said.

“He’s so di­alled in. I don’t know what nor­mal teenagers do, but he’s di­alled in, he’s work­ing out in the morn­ing, get­ting the right sleep and rest and food and every­thing like that.”

Jack said that drive and work ethic comes from his dad, Jim Hughes, who’s long worked in coach­ing and player de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing for the Bos­ton Bru­ins and Toronto Maple Leafs.

“You’ve got to give things, sac­ri­fice things to be the best. That’s what we’ve al­ways done and will con­tinue to do,” Jack said.

The Hughes broth­ers honed their work ethic in the U.S. Na­tional Team De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram, where Jack tal­lied 34 goals and 78 as­sists last sea­son. He was one of eight play­ers from the pro­gram taken in the first round of this year’s draft.

The pro­gram pro­vides an in­ten­sive en­vi­ron­ment for play­ers who truly want to ex­cel, Quinn said.

But it’s noth­ing like the life of a nor­mal teen.

“When I was there at 15, we were get­ting up at 7, get­ting ready for school, go­ing to the rink at 12, hav­ing study hall for an hour, work­ing out, skat­ing, then we had this mil­i­tary guy that would put us through some push ups. We wouldn’t be home un­til like 7:30 (p.m.),” he said.

“You’re like 15 years old and no one else is do­ing that. And you do that for two years and all of the sud­den your game takes off.”

The youngest Hughes brother, Luke, is set to join the de­vel­op­ment pro­gram this year. His broth­ers have no doubt that he’ll soon be fol­low­ing in their foot­steps at the NHL draft.

“He’s go­ing to be a hell of a player. He’s big, can skate, can think,” Jack said.

“He’s pretty much a clone of Quinn, two or three inches big­ger. It’s pretty ex­cit­ing.”

For now, though, there are two Hughes broth­ers linked to NHL fran­chises.

Quinn Hughes played five games with the Canucks last sea­son af­ter fin­ish­ing an im­pres­sive col­le­giate ca­reer at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan.

Jack Hughes is ex­pected to join the Devils this fall.

Al­ready, the broth­ers are think­ing about play­ing each other next sea­son.

“It’s go­ing to be higher stakes. It’s go­ing to be re­ally spe­cial,” Jack said.

“My mom is go­ing to be re­ally ner­vous. But all my fam­ily will watch. My friends will watch. It will be a re­ally spe­cial game. It will be some­thing to look back on.”

Though Jack Hughes was only drafted on Fri­day, talk has al­ready swirled about the pair com­pet­ing for next year’s Calder Tro­phy, awarded an­nu­ally to the NHL’s top rookie.

There’s one per­son, how­ever, who isn’t ready to en­ter­tain such thoughts.

“Man, we’re a long way from that,” Jack said.

“I haven’t played a game in the na­tional league. I’m not too worked up about that.”

CP FILE PHOTO

Van­cou­ver Canucks’ Quinn Hughes skates dur­ing an NHL hockey game against the Los An­ge­les Kings in Van­cou­ver on March 28. Hughes knew brother Jack was ready for draft to NHL.

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