Lester Patrick

Curtis Lester "Les, The Silver Fox" Patrick (December 31, 1883 – June 1, 1960) was a professional ice hockey player and coach associated with the Victoria Aristocrats/Cougars of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (Western Hockey League after 1924), and the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL). Along with his brother Frank Patrick and father Joseph Patrick, he founded the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and helped develop several rules for the game of hockey.[1] Patrick won six Stanley Cups as a player, coach and manager.

Lester Patrick
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1947
Patrick in 1917–18, with the Seattle Metropolitans
Born (1883-12-31)December 31, 1883
Drummondville, Quebec, Canada
Died June 1, 1960(1960-06-01) (aged 76)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Left
Played for New York Rangers (NHL)
Victoria Cougars (WCHL)
Victoria Aristocrats (PCHA)
Seattle Metropolitans (PCHA)
Spokane Canaries (PCHA)
Renfrew Creamery Kings (NHA)
Edmonton Pros (Exhib)
Montreal Wanderers (ECAHA)
Brandon Hockey Club (NWHL)
Playing career 19041928

Early career

The son of a wealthy lumberman, Patrick was a great rover and defenceman who first came to prominence in 1900 when he played for McGill University. In 1904 he was the star for the Brandon team in the Northwestern and Manitoba Hockey Leagues and became the first defenceman known to score a goal. With Patrick at cover point, Brandon challenged the Ottawa Senators for the Stanley Cup in that season, but were defeated in the two-game, total-goal series.[2]

He had greater success with the famed Montreal Wanderers in the 1906 and 1907 seasons. Scoring 41 goals as a rushing defenceman in just 28 scheduled games while serving as captain of the Redbands, Patrick led them to the Stanley Cup in both seasons. He followed that up by being signed as a high-priced free agent by the Renfrew Creamery Kings in the National Hockey Association's first year of operation, by which time Patrick was recognized as one of hockey's great stars.[3]

Women's ice hockey

By 1910 the entire Patrick family would affect the Nelson, British Columbia Ladies Hockey Club. Sisters Myrtle, Cynda and Dora Patrick were all involved with the club. In 1911 the Nelson Ladies Club was coached by Lester, and Dora was the captain.[4]

Pacific Coast Hockey Association

The Patricks long had western ties. Their father Joe was a major lumber entrepreneur in British Columbia — and in 1911 he, Lester and his brother Frank had their greatest gamble, the formation of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, backed with money from the sale of the family business. Luring away many eastern stars, the PCHA from the start was a prominent force in hockey, and for 15 years it would contest (along with the Western Canada Hockey League in the early 1920s) the Stanley Cup with its eastern rivals, the NHA and the National Hockey League.[5]

New rules

Patrick and his brother Frank invented 22 new rules that remain in the NHL rulebook to this day. They introduced the blue line, the forward pass, and the playoff system, a change adopted by other leagues and sports around the world. After a suggestion by their father Joe, they began using numbers on players' sweaters and in programs to help fans identify the skaters. A new rule allowed the puck to be kicked everywhere but into the net, and allowed goaltenders to fall to the ice to make a save. They were responsible for crediting assists when a goal was scored, and invented the penalty shot.[6]

Victoria Aristocrats

Lester himself was the captain and star of the Victoria Aristocrats, winning First Team All-Star accolades three of the five seasons he played for them. The franchise — plagued by small crowds — was moved to Spokane, Washington and became the Spokane Canaries in 1916, and Patrick achieved his fourth and final First Team All-Star berth. After that season the Canaries were disbanded, and Patrick joined the Stanley Cup champion Seattle Metropolitans.[5]

The Aristocrats were revived in 1918 as the Victoria Cougars, and Patrick took over as player-manager. Despite playing in only about half the games, he was named to the Second All-Star team once more before retiring as a player after the 1922 season.[5]

New York Rangers

Patrick is famous for an incident which occurred on April 7, 1928, during Game 2 of the 1928 Stanley Cup Finals against the Montreal Maroons, while serving as coach and general manager of the Rangers. After starting goaltender Lorne Chabot suffered an eye injury after being hit by the puck in the middle of the second period, Patrick inserted himself into the game as the Rangers' new netminder, offering his now-teammates the words "Boys, don't let an old man down." At the age of 44 years, 99 days, Patrick remains today the oldest man to have played in the Stanley Cup Finals. At the time it was not common for teams to have a backup goaltender, and the opposing team's coach had to allow a substitute goaltender. However, Maroons manager-coach Eddie Gerard refused to give permission for the Rangers to use Alec Connell, the Ottawa Senators' star netminder who was in the stands, as well as minor-leaguer Hugh McCormick. Odie Cleghorn, the then-coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates, stood in for Patrick as coach for the remainder of the game, and directed the Rangers to check fiercely at mid-ice which limited the Maroon players to long harmless shots. Patrick saved 18 to 19 shots while allowing one goal in helping the Rangers to an overtime victory.[7] For the next three games, the league gave permission for the Rangers to use Joe Miller from the New York Americans in goal. The Rangers went on to win the Stanley Cup; their first in franchise history.[8]

Patrick also guided the Rangers to another championship in 1933.[9]

He resigned as coach in 1939 for his one-time great center Frank Boucher, and Patrick was again a Stanley Cup-winning general manager when Boucher led the Rangers to their last Cup for 54 years in 1940.

Patrick finally retired as general manager in 1946, but stayed on as vice president of Madison Square Garden, finally exiting in 1950.[10]


Patrick donated a trophy to the Western Hockey League, the Lester Patrick Cup, to go to the playoff champions of that league, and the trophy now resides in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947.[11]

Suffering from cancer, Lester died at his Victoria home after a heart attack on June 1, 1960, at the age of 76.[12] Exactly four weeks later, he was followed by his brother Frank, 74. Frank's death was also attributed to a heart attack.


The Lester Patrick Trophy, awarded for outstanding contributions to hockey in the United States, is named for him. He was also the namesake of the Patrick Division, one of the former divisions of the NHL teams.[10]

The Patricks have been dubbed "Hockey's Royal Family." Lester himself was the father of Lynn Patrick and the grandfather of Craig Patrick, both of whom are themselves Honoured Members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Another son, Muzz Patrick, was a star player and eventually coach and general manager of the Rangers. Lester's grandson Glenn Patrick played in the NHL during parts of the 1970s while another grandson, Dick Patrick (Muzz's son) has been president of the Washington Capitals since 1982 (he is also a minority owner).[13]

Awards and achievements

  • Stanley Cup Champion (6): 1906, 1907 as a player; 1925, 1928, 1933, 1940 as an Owner/Manager/Coach.

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1903–04 Brandon HC MNWHA 12426
1903–04 Brandon HC St-Cup 20000
1904–05 Montreal Westmount CAHL 8404
1905–06 Montreal Wanderers ECAHA 91701726 23033
1906–07 Montreal Wanderers ECAHA 91101111
1906–07 Montreal Wanderers St-Cup 61001032
1907–08 Nelson Seniors BCHL 2101
1908–09 Edmonton HC Exhib. 11013
1908–09 Nelson Pros Exhib. 24043
1908–09 Edmonton HC St-Cup 21123
1909–10 Renfrew Creamery Kings NHA 122402425
1911–12 Victoria Senators PCHA 16100109
1912–13 Victoria Senators PCHA 151451912
1913–14 Victoria Aristocrats PCHA 955100
1913–14 Victoria Aristocrats St-Cup 3202
1914–15 Victoria Aristocrats PCHA 171251715
1915–16 Victoria Aristocrats PCHA 1813112427
1916–17 Spokane Canaries PCHA 2310112115
1917–18 Seattle Metropolitans PCHA 17281015 20110
1918–19 Victoria Aristocrats PCHA 92570
1919–20 Victoria Aristocrats PCHA 112243
1920–21 Victoria Aristocrats PCHA 523513
1921–22 Victoria Aristocrats PCHA 20000
1925–26 Victoria Cougars WHL 23581320 20002
1926–27 New York Rangers NHL 10002
1927–28 New York Rangers NHL 10000
PCHA totals 1427255127109 20110
St-Cup totals 1313114

Coaching record

TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
GWLTPtsDivision rankResult
NYR1926–27 4425136561st in AmericanLost in semi-finals
NYR1927–28 4419169472nd in AmericanWon Stanley Cup
NYR1928–29 44211310522nd in AmericanLost in Stanley Cup Finals
NYR1929–30 44171710443rd in AmericanLost in semi-finals
NYR1930–31 4419169473rd in AmericanLost in semi-finals
NYR1931–32 4823178531st in AmericanLost in Stanley Cup Finals
NYR1932–33 4823178533rd in AmericanWon Stanley Cup
NYR1933–34 4821198503rd in AmericanLost in quarter-finals
NYR1934–35 4822206503rd in AmericanLost in semi-finals
NYR1935–36 48191712504th in AmericanDNQ
NYR1936–37 4819209473rd in AmericanLost in Stanley Cup Finals
NYR1937–38 4827156602nd in AmericanLost in quarter-finals
NYR1938–39 4826166582nd in NHLLost in semi-finals

See also



  • Bowlsby, Craig H. (2012), Empire of Ice: The Rise and Fall of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, 1911–1926, Vancouver: Knights of Winter, ISBN 978-0-9691705-6-3
  • Cosentino, Frank (1990), The Renfrew Millionaires: The Valley Boys of Winter 1910, Burnstown, Ontario: General Store Publishing House, ISBN 0-919431-35-6
  • Fischler, Stan (1976). Those Were The Days: The Lore of Hockey by the Legends of the Game. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company. ISBN 0-396-07015-9.
  • Mancuso, Jim; Petterson, Scott (2007). Hockey in Portland (2007 ed.). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-4804-9.
  • Norton, Wayne (2009). Women on Ice: The Early Years of Women's Hockey in Western Canada (2009 ed.). Ronsdale Press. ISBN 1-55380-073-7.
  • Whitehead, Eric (1983). The Patricks: Hockey's Royal Family (1983 ed.). Formac Publishing Company. ISBN 0-88780-103-X.
Preceded by
Position created
Head coach of the New York Rangers
Succeeded by
Frank Boucher
Preceded by
Conn Smythe
General Manager of the New York Rangers
Succeeded by
Frank Boucher
Preceded by
John S. Hammond
President of the New York Rangers
Succeeded by
John S. Hammond
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