"One of the real things I learned from my grandfather, through my father, was patience. There may be problems but there's always solutions so you just need to be patient and the solution will come to you. I've been trying to get back into the game and teams have offered me positions but I wasn't ready at the time. Maybe I should reconsider and I hope something will work out soon." -- Craig Patrick
Dick Patrick, a pillar of the Washington Capitals franchise for more than two decades as owner, president and governor, and his cousin Craig, who served as assistant general manager and assistant coach for the gold-medal winning 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, as well as being the GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers, joined Bettman and co-host Bill Jaffe in a celebration of all things Patrick.
The tribute was fitting too, since the Lester Patrick Trophy reception will be held Wednesday here at Gotham Hall. The celebration will feature the presentation of the Lester Patrick Trophy to Mark Messier and Mike Richter, two mainstays of the Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup champion team, and to Detroit Red Wings Senior Vice President Jim Devellano, who got his first job in hockey as a scout for Lester's son, Lynn Patrick, with the St. Louis Blues. The Lester Patrick Trophy is awarded annually to those players, coaches, officials or executives who have exhibited outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
"I think back to when the award was new and I was a senior and playing hockey at Dartmouth and to come and present it was so memorable," Dick Patrick told Bettman. "It was almost like a men's club because there were governors, coaches and players from teams and it was exciting. As a college hockey player, it was great to see these guys. I remember Eddie Shore was there that night (in 1970) getting his award and I was just 20 so he looked like 100-years-old to me. But it was then I learned just how friendly the hockey fraternity really is."
Lester Patrick was the first coach, first general manager and first of three generations of Patrick family members to serve management roles with the Rangers. Lester also was a hockey visionary who, along with his brother Frank, was responsible for a variety of innovations, including numbered jerseys in 1911, the blue lines in 1914, player changes "on the fly" in 1918 and penalty shots in 1922 -- all which remain staples in today's game.
Craig Patrick, who played eight seasons in the NHL with four different teams, was named general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1989 and garnered two Stanley Cups and one Presidents' Trophy while drafting future stars Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury. He was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2000 for his outstanding service to hockey in the U.S. and enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 in the 'builder' category.
"One of the real things I learned from my grandfather, through my father, was patience," Craig Patrick said. "There may be problems but there's always solutions so you just need to be patient and the solution will come to you."
He's hoping to once again get involved in the game in some capacity as he still watches religiously.
"I've been trying to get back into the game and teams have offered me positions but I wasn't ready at the time," he said. "Maybe I should reconsider and I hope something will work out soon."
And, as GM of the Penguins, did he expect his first overall draft choice in 2005 -- Sidney Crosby -- to be as good as he is right now?
"I did not think he'd be as good as he would be and, the thing is, he's only going to get better and better," Craig Patrick said.
The Lester Patrick Award, one of the most prestigious in hockey, was presented to the NHL by the New York Rangers in 1966. Patrick spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach and GM and was a pioneer in sports development.
Bettman also asked Dick Patrick for his expectations of a Washington Capitals team that finished with 108 points last season before dropping a seven-game series to the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinal.
"We have high expectations but we're very fortunate to have a player like Alex Ovechkin," he said. "I have to really give him a huge amount of credit for our popularity. There are great players in the league but he's captured the fans' interest with the way he plays. We have a pretty good team but I don't believe we'd be as popular if not for the magnetism of Alex Ovechkin."
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org