He was known as the “Chairman of the boards.” A hardworking right wing with leadership qualities, Patrick Flatley will always live on in Islanders history. The team’s fifth Captain will be honored Saturday, Jan. 14, prior to the Islanders matchup against the Buffalo Sabres.
Drafted by the Islanders in the middle of their dynasty run, Flatley played two years at the University of Wisconsin before representing his home country on the Canadian National Team. He joined the Islanders at the tail end of the 1983-84 season, in time for the team's fifth straight Stanley Cup playoff run.
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“I basically grew up on Long Island as a professional hockey player and a person,” Flatley said. “So Long Island was a big part of my life, from 20-35, those are formative years and the Islanders and Long Island played a big role in that.”
Joining the Islanders during that era was something Flatley will never forget.
“That whole 1984 team, it was just a gift to come into that environment,” Flatley said. “I entered the dressing room with the Stanley Cup champions and was mentored by champions. They taught me how to be a pro; more importantly, how to be leaders in the community and good human beings.”
From 1984 onward that bright-eyed 20-year-old worked hard, played hard and eventually earned his nickname “Chairman of the boards” for his physical toughness along the boards and ability to win those grueling 1-on-1 battles.
In October 1991, the start of his eighth full season with the Islanders, Flatley would be named the franchises’ fifth Captain, joining the ranks of Ed Westfall, Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin and Brent Sutter.
“When you consider who the Captains were before that, it was a pretty significant thing for me to join that group,” Flatley said. “And with Al Arbour as the coach and Bill Torrey as the general manager, that magnified it even to a greater extent.”
Flatley described his leadership style as "understanding."
“Much like a coach, understanding the wants and needs of each player, what they are going through and how to help them be their best when they get to the rink,” Flatley said. “If that involves helping them on the personal side of things, then that’s when you have to invest time in.”
He continued, “I also don’t believe that one person is the singular leader. I believe in the collective effort and when I was there I had a very strong supporting cast that helped me and communicated well. We did it together.”
In 1992-93, Flatley posted a career-high 47 assists and 60 points (13 goals) to lead the Islanders to the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, their deepest run since Flatley’s first playoff appearance as the Islanders fell to the Edmonton Oilers in the Final Round.
Though he wouldn’t return a Stanley Cup to Long Island in his 14 years with the franchise, the right wing loved every moment of his Islanders career.
“I have to be honest to me every day was Christmas Day, every day,” Flatley said. “There were many memories, some days the gifts were better than others, but when every day is Christmas, it’s hard to really qualify one event as the event, outside of winning the Stanley Cup, which we were unable to do.”
Now, nearly 15 seasons since he hung up his skates, Flatley will return to Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 14 to be inducted into the Islanders Hall of Fame.