We’ve heard of brothers competing against each other in the NHL in the past. Some of them, like Maurice and Henri Richard, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Scott and Rob Niedermayer and Denis and Jean Potvin are more remembered than others.
But brothers Keith and Wayne Primeau might have one of the better stories to tell.
They played in a combined 1683 NHL regular season games. However, facing each other April 7th. 1997 will be something they’ll never forget.
Keith was playing for the Hartford Whalers and Wayne for the Buffalo Sabres.
In the second period, with the Sabres leading by one goal, Wayne suddenly got into a small scuffle with defenseman Alexander Godynuyk. It all erupted and soon Keith joined in.
“Next thing I know, my brother’s on top of me because he was the closest guy to stick up for his goalie,” Wayne Primeau said in 2008. “He just said, ‘What do you want to do?’ I said, ‘I don’t care.’”
The two brothers started fighting, and with Keith being the bigger of them two, he was also the one who threw the heavier punches.
“You could tell he was holding back, but he was still hitting me in the head,” Wayne said to the Hartford Courant postgame. “It wasn’t full through with the punch, but I was getting a little bit pissed off. I went to throw an uppercut and it just missed.”
Keith Primeau didn’t want it to happen, but it did. He knew it probably wasn’t something his parents would be proud of and he acted accordingly.
When entering the dressing room after serving his major penalty, Keith reached for the phone straight away and called his parents to apologize for fighting his little brother.
“It’s not just another player Wayne was scuffling with. It was the goaltender,” Keith said to the Hartford Courant. “When I came into the locker room right [after the fight], I was real upset. I called my parents right away. My dad was laughing, actually. I was looking for someone to settle me down, and my dad did that. My mom said, ‘Go out there and see what you can do to tie the game up.’”
The Whalers came back winning against the Sabres 4-2, and it surely was a great memory for the fans. Just six days later, the Whalers played their last ever game before being relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina.
And of course, this is a memory the Primeau brothers will carry with them for a long time as well.
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