Reinhart, Mullen Worthy of Famous Names
By Jason Karnosky
Thanks to a roster stockpiled with top prospects, pedigree is something the 2015-2016 Milwaukee Admirals carry in spades. The team carries a boatload of young talent that developed into one of the American Hockey League’s best teams this season.
However, beyond just the talent, Milwaukee’s roster features a pair of players by name alone seem predestined to be successful hockey players—Max Reinhart and Patrick Mullen. If their names sound familiar, they should as each of these Admirals is a son of a NHL veteran—Paul Reinhart and Joe Mullen respectively.
“Max is a very intelligent, mature player and that has a lot to do with his family,” Admirals coach Dean Evason said. “I think he and teammate Patrick Mullen are like a lot of the players whose fathers played hockey for a living. Not only are they skilled enough to play, but they have the mental capacity to play well every night. They really understand the game.”
While their namesakes earned Reinhart and Mullen some advantages growing up as far as getting noticed, neither player took their careers for granted. Both AHL veterans earneverything they receive, including the playing time Evason doled out to both of them this season.
“I think our dads actually played together in Calgary, but we didn’t really say anything about it when we first became teammates,” said Mullen of his first meeting with Max Reinhart in Milwaukee. “At this point having parents that played in the NHL is nothing different or special for us. It’s all that we know.”
Reinhart came to Milwaukee in the offseason after three years in same Flames organization that his father starred for from 1979-88. In his first professional season with Calgary the Vancouver native dressed in 11 NHL games. Reinhart scored first NHL goal in the Flames’ 4-1 victory over rival Edmonton on April 13, 2013.
“It was a pretty cool putting the same jersey on that my dad did for a long time,” said Reinhart, who was drafted by Calgary in the third round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. “Playing in my first NHL games in that jersey was pretty special and is something I will always remember.”
Over the next two years Reinhart added 12 more NHL games to his resume, while primarily maturing his game in the AHL for the Flames’ affiliates.
With Milwaukee Reinhart is displaying the best goal scoring touch of his young career. He ranks second on the squad with 23 goals in 73 games, and those 23 goals include a pair of hat tricks—the first two of his professional career. Reinhart scored three goals in his team’s 6-2 win over Rockford on December 21, and then duplicated the feat on February 26, as the Admirals waxed Chicago 4-1.
Along with providing consistent offense, this season Reinhart successfully made the transition into a leader with Milwaukee, as the 24-year-old ranks as one of the team’s older players.
“It’s a little bit of different role for me being an older player on a young team,” Reinhart said. “We have a very young team, but I think a lot of the guys play a very mature game. I’ve tried to go out and lead by example and show some of the younger guys what it is like to be a professional.”
It is a role that came naturally to Reinhart, who is the oldest of three brothers.
“Growing up I knew my dad was a hockey player, and a very good one at that, but hockey was always something I wanted to do,” Reinhart said. “If anything my parents were pushing me to do something else like take up golfing or something like that. There was just something about the sport that my brothers and I enjoyed and we played it a lot together.”
All three Reinhart brothers have budding NHL careers, each following in the footsteps of their legendary father. Max’s youngest brother Sam (20 years old) just completed his rookie season with the Buffalo Sabres, where he produced 23 goals and 42 points. Like dad Griffin (22) is a defenseman, and as of 2015-2016 has 37 games of NHL experience with the Oilers and New York Islanders.
“We are a pretty close family and we all have sort of shared the same career,” Max Reinhart said. “My two brothers are actually my two best friends and it’s cool because we get to train together all summer. We have a lot of fun and keep in contact all the time.”
Mullen came to Milwaukee in the middle of his eighth professional season by way of a trade for fellow blue liner Conor Allen. With just one right-handed defenseman on the Admirals’ roster at the time of the trade, Evason encouraged team General Manager Paul Fenton to find a player to enhance Milwaukee’s balance.
“Initially what we were looking for when we acquired Patrick was another right handed defenseman,” Evason said. “But all of our research about him proved true. He’s a good player that can play in all situations and then you add his maturity level and the fact that he’s a good teammate, and it’s clearly been a win-win situation for him and us. Patrick’s meant a lot to this hockey team.”
Since coming to Milwaukee, Mullen survived an injury scare to become one of the team’s most dependable blue liners, picking up 14 points in 29 games and posting a steady plus-six rating.
“I didn’t really follow the West until I was traded here because we never played against them in Binghamton,” Mullen said. “I was surprised when I saw all of the skill here and how many good players there were on this team.”
Mullen’s father Joe was one of the most prolific American-born players of all time, scoring 502 goals and 1,063 points in a storied 16-year career that included three Stanley Cup titles—one with Calgary and back-to-back championships with Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old Boston native’s uncle Brian also had a distinguished NHL run, spanning 1982-93 primarily with Winnipeg and the New York Rangers.
“It was great to have him as a dad as he’s a great guy and has always been really supportive of me,” Mullen said. “Watching my dad play every night, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. My uncle Brian played as well, and hockey was always something that we did together as a family.”
Much like Reinhart, Mullen picked up is a lot of the same attributes that made his dad a Hall of Famer.
“I played with his uncle Brian, and though I don’t know Joe as much, it seems like their personalities were similar,” Evason said. “They are both very calm, quiet guys that compete hard when the puck drop. The same is true of dad Joe and son Patrick, even though one was a forward and the other is a defenseman. The assets that allowed Joe to be successful allow Patrick to be successful here.”
Mullen and Reinhart will be key components of a Milwaukee Admirals team (48-23-3-2—101 points) that finished first in Central Division, and is poised for a deep playoff run.
“There is a ton of depth on this team,” Mullen said. “As long as we work hard and play focused in the playoffs, we can go far.”
Both players still have dreams of playing in the NHL. For now their goal is to steer Milwaukee toward a Calder Cup.
“We just want to keep playing well and winning down here,” Reinhart said. “If we stay focused on playing smart and being responsible, we can make a strong playoff run.”