The Patrick Heritage
by Mike Vogel
The Washington Capitals are in the 26th season of their NHL existence, but one member of the Capitals' family can trace his pro hockey lineage back nearly 100 years, several years before the birth of the NHL.
Capitals president and minority owner Dick Patrick represents the third generation of Patricks to serve an NHL team in an executive capacity. The Patrick family's involvement in pro hockey stretches all the way back to just after the turn of the century. Patrick's grandfather, Lester Patrick, and his brother Frank started the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in 1911. They also opened the first indoor ice arenas in Canada at that time. Both had long careers as players, coaches, innovators and executives. The brothers Patrick are responsible for the introduction of many the things we see today in the NHL, from uniform numbers to the playoff system. Lester first won the Stanley Cup as a player with the Montreal Wanderers in 1905-06 and 1906-07. Frank Patrick won it as a playing manager with the Vancouver Millionaires in 1914-15. Lester Patrick is enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947. Frank Patrick was enshrined in 1958.
Lester Patrick sired the next generation of hockey Patricks, Lynn Patrick and Muzz Patrick (Dick's father). Brothers Lynn and Muzz grew up with the game, and both played for the 1940 Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers. Lynn Patrick, a 1980 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, went on to briefly serve as coach of the Rangers before taking over as the general manager of the Boston Bruins for many years. Muzz Patrick also coached the Rangers and served as their GM for several seasons.
Two of Lynn Patrick's sons—Craig and Glenn—went on to play in the NHL. Craig Patrick was an assistant coach and assistant GM of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" US Olympic team. He became the fourth member of the family to serve as Rangers' coach and the third to serve as Rangers' GM. He is now the president, CEO and general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
As an occasional feature of www.washingtoncaps.com we'll be visiting with Dick Patrick as he shares some of his memories and the history of his family's lifetime involvement in the game. Dick is anxiously awaiting the day when he becomes the sixth Patrick to have his named engraved on Lord Stanley's Cup. He tells a great story about how his dad and uncle took matters into their own hands in first etching their names on the hardware.
"[Capitals majority owner] Ted [Leonsis] is always asking me about—because he's heard me say it enough—the five Patricks with their names on the Stanley Cup," Patrick relates. "And my goal is to get my name on the Cup. [Fellow owner] Jon Ledecky referred to it [in a recent article for washingtoncaps.com] because he went to that meeting in Denver with me. I introduced him to my cousin, Craig [Patrick, general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins], and Jon said, 'Is your name on the Stanley Cup?' And Craig said, Yes'. Two more than Dick.' So there are five of them on there now, and I want to be the sixth.
"But the first time my dad, Muzzy, and his brother, Lynn got their names on the Cup was when they were kids. The Rangers won it in 1928. My dad was about 13 then, and Lynn was a couple of years older. They lived in Victoria, British Columbia then and my grandfather [Lester Patrick] would go back east [to New York, where he was head coach and general manager of the Rangers] for the hockey season and come home for the summer. Back in those days, he just brought the Stanley Cup home, because they had won it. He took it home and put it in the basement for the summer. Lynn and Muzz took a nail and scratched their names on it. So that was the first time they got their names on the Stanley Cup," he laughs.
"And 12 years later, they got it back with the Rangers."
That was in 1940, when the Rangers defeated Toronto in six games to win the Cup. It would be 54 years before the New Yorkers would reclaim the chalice.
Defenseman Muzz and forward Lynn spent several seasons together on the Rangers in the late 1930s and early 1940s. During much of the 1950s, they were rivals. Muzz was GM of the Rangers and Lynn served in the same post with the Rangers. This made for some uneasy moments for Muzz and Lynn's parents.
"I remember when my grandfather and grandmother used to commute, after they retired," Patrick recalls. "My dad ran New York and my uncle ran Boston, so they'd split their time [between their two sons]. It was fun to see the two teams playing each other. I think my grandfather always rooted for the home team to win. My grandmother would be the only person in the building who was rooting for a tie right from the opening faceoff."
Back in the days of the Original Six, all NHL teams traveled by train. Patrick recalls accompanying his father the rail journey from New York to Boston.
"I did that once, when I was a young teenager," Patrick remembers. "We played the Bruins at home in New York on New Year's Eve and up in Boston on New Year's night. We took the train up, and I remember I wanted to take the train within a block or two of Times Square to see the madness, which we did. And we got in the train and got a little room at the end with a lower berth. At the other end of the car, there was like a little club room where the players could have a beer or a cigarette. The players would just walk around with their undershirts and undershorts. After a game, you'd go to Grand Central, and nobody could sleep because they were all pumped up from the game. Then the train would get into Boston pretty early in the morning. They would just uncouple that car and leave it there so the players could sleep until their regular time. And there was a hotel right near the station, so you'd have rooms for the day when you got up. It was fun traveling by train. At least I thought it was great as a kid."
The Patrick family's involvement in pro hockey has left many great stories and legends, and will continue to do so well into the next century. Caps fans are almost as eager as Patrick to see him become the sixth member of his clan to claim the Cup. Until that glorious day, check back often at www.washingtoncaps.com as Dick Patrick shares the stories of his family's rich history in the great game of hockey.