Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
In their 43 years of existence the Capitals have been a relatively stable team when it comes to front office personnel and team operations. They’ve had just two owners (Abe Pollin from 1974-99 and Ted Leonsis from 1999-Present), and have only played in two arenas (the legendary Capital Centre and the newly-christened Capital One Arena). One of the constants in over 30 years of their 43-year history has been Team President Dick Patrick. And without Patrick, many of the major events in team history would not have happened.
The Patrick Family has been one of a few synonymous with the NHL throughout its history. Patrick’s grandfather Lester Patrick was a longtime coach and General Manager of the New York Rangers and the Lester Patrick Trophy (named after him) is given to any player, coach, front office executive, or officials who has provided outstanding service to hockey in the United States. It is not an NHL trophy as it can be presented to others outside the NHL. His father and uncle were members of the 1940 New York Rangers team that won the Stanley Cup. His cousin Craig Patrick was a player in the NHL for nine seasons (including three seasons – 1976-79 – with the Capitals to finish his career) and was an Assistant General Manager for the famous Miracle of Ice team, and the General Manager for the Pittsburgh Penguins for 17 years.
Patrick was hired by the Capitals in 1982 and has played a key role in the growth of hockey in the D.C. area. Prior to his hiring, the Caps had failed to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs in their short history. In over 30 years of his time with the Capitals, the Capitals have qualified for the playoffs 27 times, and have won the President’s Trophy three times. Patrick has been in his current role for over 20 years and played a key role in the development of Owner Ted Leonsis’ Monumental Sports and Entertainment and serves as the company’s Vice Chairman. He was also a prominent figure in the development and construction of Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the team’s practice facility, which also hosts local hockey teams (both adult and youth programs), and played a large role in bringing and planning the 2015 NHL Winter Classic, which was hosted at Nationals Park on New Year’s Day in 2015. Patrick was also instrumental in the hirings of Brian MacLellan and Barry Trotz as General Manager and Head Coach, respectively.
For his longtime service and contributions to hockey in the United States, Patrick was awarded the trophy that bears his grandfather’s namesake in 2012. As the Capitals prepare to enter their 43rd season as an NHL franchise, there’s no doubt that the team would not be where they are without the brilliance and hard work and dedication of Dick Patrick. While the team has yet to reach their ultimate goal of winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup, the amount of success they’ve had during the regular season should and cannot be overlooked. The growth of hockey in the DMV-area has grown substantially with the help of Patrick and it’s thanks to him that the Capitals are and will continue to be one of the NHL’s elite franchises.
By Michael Fleetwood