Summer 2024

Staal brothers playing for God's glory in 2nd round of NHL playoffs

Three of the Staal brothers — Eric, Jordan and Marc — have been playing in the NHL together since 2007 but had never all won a playoff series in the same season — until now.

Jordan had two assists as his Carolina Hurricanes beat the New York Islanders in six games, while Eric’s and Marc’s Florida Panthers pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport by eliminating the record-setting Boston Bruins in a thrilling Game 7. Eric contributed a goal and an assist in the series.

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This postseason marks just the third time the three brothers made the playoffs in the same season. It happened when Jordan won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 and again in 2020. Both times, Jordan ended up sweeping one of his brothers.

The Panthers took Game 1 of their series with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, and the Hurricanes won their opener against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday. Should both the Panthers and Hurricanes advance, they’d meet in the conference finals with a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals on the line.

As much as hockey has long been a central part of the Staal brothers’ lives, so has faith.

“To this day I still don’t know how my parents did it,” Jordan said in a 2018 interview with Promise Keepers Canada. “Fortunately we had a lot of help from friends, and a lot of people helped us out shuttling kids to and from practice. My parents obviously did an unbelievable job of giving us the opportunity to play all the hockey we could.

“As I grew up I knew it wasn’t all just hockey though; I knew that we had to make time for God and our relationship with Him. My parents did a great job of instilling that in us and letting us know that whether it’s hockey or in anything else in life, it’s easy to say that you’re busy, but it’s very important to make time for God.”

After growing up in Thunder Bay, Ontario, all four brothers reached the NHL, starting with Eric in 2003. Jordan made his debut in 2006, and Marc followed the next season. The fourth brother, Jared, appeared in two games for the Hurricanes in 2013.

Eric told Promise Keepers Canada that finding time to read the Bible helps reenergize him during the long season.

“Hockey season is always a busy time — it’s a long year and sometimes it’s tough to find that study time, but when I do it’s always great and refreshing,” he said. “It’s a chance to try to live our lives for God and show our fans and teammates that there are better things up above. It just becomes a way of life after enough time.”

Eric and Jordan both lifted the Stanley Cup early in their careers, leaving Marc as the only one of the trio yet to win a championship. All three have played in more than 90 playoff games.

Earlier this season, they played in the same game for the 11th time. That also happened to be the 1,300th game of Eric’s career.

As successful as they’ve been on the ice, however, they want people to know that they are living for a much greater purpose.

“Hockey is an unbelievable sport and something that has obviously been a big part of my life, but it’s not all me; it’s not something I live for,” Jordan said. “I live for God, and hockey is definitely something that I want to give God the glory for.”

Florida plays Game 2 at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday. Carolina plays its Game 2 at 8 p.m. ET on Friday.

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