Falcon Family Legacy: The Blake Family

Ben Shanahan | Reporter

The Blake family is one of the most notable families to come out of BGSU. 

Current general manager for the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings Rob Blake, played for the Falcons between 1987 to 1990 under legendary head coach Jerry York. In his collegiate career as a top defender for the Orange and Brown, he scored 39 goals along with 65 assists. During the 1989-90 season, he scored 23 goals and had 36 assists in 42 games. 

Between his freshman and sophomore seasons, Blake’s NHL playing rights were drafted 77th overall to the Kings, and once the Falcons were eliminated from the NCAA tournament by the University of Maine, he went pro. 

Blake played with Ty Eigner, the current head coach of BGSU’s Hockey program, for two seasons, 1988-90. Eigner, often a practice opponent against Blake, understood how good he was from the start. 

“I got the chance to play with Rob for a couple of years,” Eigner said. “In those two years, we were pretty good and went to the NCAA tournament, Rob was an All American. My role on that team was not a significant role as a player. I look back and I was on the mock penalty kill unit, Rob was on the powerplay. So you are supposed to block a shot from Rob, but that is something no one wanted to do, because of how hard he shot the puck.”

While in Los Angeles, Blake would have a historic career playing with the Kings for twelve seasons, tallying 453 points and being the team’s captain for his last six years with the team. In February of 2001, Blake was traded to the Colorado Avalanche, who were making a Stanley Cup run and needed one final piece to put them over the edge. This thought turned out to be true, as the Avalanche would go on to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history that same season, giving Blake his first and only title as a player. After four and a half seasons in Colorado, Blake would return to the Kings as a free agent in the summer of 2006. As a King once again, Rob would play two seasons, earning 65 points, and once again become a free agent. This time, Blake would sign with the San Jose Sharks, playing his final two NHL seasons and earning 75 points. Blake finished his career with 777 points in 1,270 games and was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame as the first and only Falcon to do so. Currently in his role as general manager of the Kings, Blake has won two Stanley Cups, while his iconic number four was retired by the organization in 2015. 

In the 2020 offseason, Jack Blake would follow in his father’s footsteps and sign with Bowling Green.

“For me, it was always the place I wanted to go to. Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted to play where my dad was. Once they offered me, I knew I wanted to come here,” Blake said.

Eigner has known Jack for a long time, and knew the fit would be seamless. 

“The experience has to be unique to the player. Rob and Jack are connected 100 percent, but it has to be Jack’s experience. The nice thing about dealing with Rob, his wife, Brandy, and Jack was that everybody was on the same page… The potential of this, that this is Jack’s opportunity and everyone is happy where we are right now. “

Hockey has obviously always been a big aspect for the Blake household when Jack was growing up, but it was not forced upon him to play when asked about falling in love with the sport.

“I fell in love with it by watching my dad play,” Blake said. “He would always bring me to practices, skate together at a young age, and watch it. I fell in love like that. It was never forced, just something I was always going to do. “

From that father-son relationship that made him fall in love with the sport, Blake would move to youth hockey, playing for the LA Jr. Kings AAA Hockey Club. He would play for them his entire teenage years while moving up the ranks from under 13 all the way up to under 16. After aging out of youth hockey, Blake would move onto what he says was his favorite team to play for growing up: the Shattuck St. Mary’s 18 Under Prep. 

“I really enjoyed playing for the Junior Kings,” Blake said. “It was something I did my whole life, but I loved moving to Shattuck St.Mary’s. That was a cool experience; just the history of all the great players that went through that program, playing where Sidney Crosby and MacKinnon played. “

Blake would play two more seasons in junior hockey before making the collegiate jump to BGSU; the biggest jump he had made as a young hockey player.

“Youth to juniors, I would say it’s not as crazy as the jump from juniors to college, I found,” Blake said. “Obviously, guys are faster going from midget to juniors, but going from juniors to college jump; everyone is a good player. You do not have those bottom line guys who might not play D1, they’ll play D3, but everyone here is capable of playing to that next level. Practices are harder and more intense, and even with the bigger crowds, the players are much faster and more physical. “

Dreaming about playing his whole life in college, Blake had to sit out last year when he came to campus after being redshirted to save a year of his eligibility. Now that he is eligible, Blake’s dreams are now coming true.

“Being able to play in front of your friends around school would be something very cool,” Blake said. ” I got to catch a few home games last year. I just thought it would be so cool to play in front of a home crowd. “

Blake got to live that dream out on October 8, when he made his collegiate debut for the Falcons at the home opener against Michigan State as the extra skater in a 2-1 loss. Having his dad as an alumni, Blake turned to his dad for guidance on how to balance school, hockey, and where to go in town.

“Yeah, he told me what to do with my school schedule and hockey, but all the places he talked about are still closed,” Blake said. “But the one he loved talking about was Brathaus, which is still up and running, but we had all new restaurants when he was here.”

Having an NHL hall of famer as a dad is mostly a positive, but it comes with unintentional pressure.

“It is hard to explain in a way, but you just have to live up to the name,” Blake said. “It was big shoes to fill, but I had to live with it. In LA, everyone knew the name. Even when I went back to Toronto to play juniors, everyone knew who my dad was. I try not to think about it on the ice even though the other team will remind me, but you just have to do your thing and hopefully one day I will do what he did.”

 Blake and the Falcons are currently in the midst of the 2022 regular season. For more information about Falcon Hockey, go to bgsufalcons.com.