As the son of former NHL defenseman Charlie Huddy — one of seven players to win five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers — Wranglers forward Ryan Huddy lived a charmed childhood.
Born the summer before the Oilers’ first championship season of 1983-84, Huddy was placed in the Stanley Cup as an infant and spent his formative years skating with hockey Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and other key members of the Oilers’ dynasty.
“(Ryan) would always go skate before practice, before we went on the ice, and some of the guys would come out earlier and skate with him,” said Charlie Huddy, 51, who played 11 of his 17 NHL seasons with Edmonton and is an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars.
“He probably doesn’t remember a lot of it, but it was great for me to be able to see him out there with guys like (Gretzky), (Messier) and Paul Coffey.”
Coffey, also a Hall of Famer, was Charlie Huddy’s longtime defensive partner, his closest friend on the team and a frequent guest at the Huddy home.
“(Coffey) was great with Ryan and our daughter Amanda,” Charlie said. “He was single at the time, and we’d have him over for dinner and he’d go up and play with the kids, which was pretty cool.”
Ryan was 6 years old when Edmonton won its fifth Stanley Cup crown in seven seasons in 1990. He recalls the day his father brought home hockey’s Holy Grail for the final time.
“I remember it coming to the house. We had a big barbecue with family and friends,” said Huddy, 27, who leads Las Vegas with 18 goals and 32 points. “What (the Oilers) did in the decade of the 1980s was pretty remarkable — the teams they had, how young they were and how good they were.
“I appreciate it more now than I did at that age and growing up.”
The 5-foot-9-inch, 180-pound Huddy, smaller-framed than his father, has averaged more than a point a game throughout his five-year professional career.
A product of Bemidji State in Minnesota, Huddy played two seasons in Germany before coming home in 2008. In 2008-09, he played with Springfield of the American Hockey League but mostly with Stockton of the ECHL, where he scored 87 points.
“He’s an extremely cerebral player,” said Wranglers coach Ryan Mougenel, Huddy’s former assistant coach in Stockton. “He’s always in the right place at the right time. He has a knack for scoring big goals.”
Ironically, Mougenel, 34, who grew up in Toronto, idolized the Oilers during their dynasty and once met Charlie Huddy after a game against the Maple Leafs.
“I met him in the Oilers’ locker room when I was 7 or 8. It was a big thrill for me to be in the Oilers’ dressing room,” Mougenel said. “(Huddy) picked me up and put me in the garbage can.
“Now I’m coaching his son.”
Huddy, who talks to his father every day, played in Denmark last season. But with his wife, Beth, pregnant with their first child, the couple returned to North America, where Violet Katherine Huddy was born Nov. 10 in Las Vegas.
Violet could wind up sitting in the Kelly Cup this year if her father continues his strong play for the Pacific Division-leading Wranglers (21-10-3, 45 points).
Huddy scored a goal in Las Vegas’ 4-1 victory over the Alaska Aces (21-12-2, 44 points) on Saturday at the Orleans Arena. He had scored in 10 straight games before his streak ended Friday.
“I had a lot going on at the beginning of the (season), with having our first child, but things have kind of slowed down in that aspect,” he said. “My mind’s a little more clear, and I’m in hockey mode and having fun.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354.LAS VEGAS 4
KEY: Justin Bernhardt had two goals and an assist for the Wranglers, and Joe Fallon made 27 saves.
NEXT: Aces at Wranglers, 2:05 p.m. today