James Patrick resigned today from his position as development instructor for the Buffalo Sabres to pursue an opportunity to play hockey for his brother-in-law in Frankfurt, Germany.
"He called me today and we had a very good conversation," stated general manager Darcy Regier during the Sabres game against the Minnesota Wild on Friday night. "He just simply said that he wants to play again."
Regier asked Patrick if he was interested in suiting up for Buffalo or possibly even beginning the season in Rochester with the Americans. Patrick indicated it was the adventure of a foreign country and opportunity to play for family that was drawing him to Frankfurt.
"I understand it," stated Regier. "He wants to play, he's looking at a life experience and he wants to take his family for what amounts to a shortened year and play in Germany for his brother-in-law. If that's something that James wants to do, I have the utmost respect for it. What we have said to him is when he comes back to Buffalo, come see us and we'll find something here for you."
Patrick retired on September 8 from the NHL after a 21-year career and was instantly hired by the Sabres. As Buffalo's development instructor, Patrick worked with all players in the Sabres organization, including the Rochester Americans and all drafted amateur players, focusing on defensive play.
Patrick entered the NHL as a first-round selection (ninth overall) of the New York Rangers in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. Over his 21-year career with the Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames and Sabres, the 42-year-old native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, scored 639 points (149+490) in 1280 regular season games. Patrick also scored 38 points (6+32) in 117 career Stanley Cup playoff games.
Prior to his retirement, Patrick was ranked ninth among active players in games played, and was one of three remaining active players from the first-round of the 1981 Draft -- the others being Al MacInnis and Ron Francis.
His best offensive seasons came as a member of the New York Rangers from 1983-94. Patrick posted seven consecutive seasons (1985-92) of 40 or more points, including a career-high of 71 (14+57) in 1991-92. The 71 points and 57 assists were career-bests for Patrick. He scored a career-high 17 goals in 1987-88.
Patrick played six seasons in Buffalo after signing as an unrestricted free agent on June 7, 1998. He scored 74 points (23+51) in 345 regular season games, and added 5 points (1+4) in 38 playoff games.
Patrick's career plus/minus total of +104 reflects his steady defensive play. He finished as a minus in just one of six seasons in Buffalo, and in just six of his 21 seasons.
Patrick is also a veteran of international competition, having won championships for Team Canada at the 1982 World Junior Championships and 1987 Canada Cup tournaments, and bronze with the 1983 World Junior team. He also represented Canada in the 1984 Winter Olympics, and the 1983, 1987, 1998 and 2002 World Championships.
Patrick played two stellar college seasons at the University of North Dakota. In 1982 he was awarded WCHA Freshman of the Year, made the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team and WCHA Second All-Star Team. In 1983 he was named to the WCHA First All-Star Team and NCAA West All-American.