How Glenn Patrick Carved His Own Hockey Legacy

Author: Adam Reid, for PHPA.com
Date: May 31, 2017

Glenn Patrick was born April 26th, 1950 in New York City into one of the most famous hockey families of all time.  Glenn’s Grandfather Lester, his father Lynn, his great-uncle Frank, and brother Craig have all been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, while his uncle Muzz also played in the NHL.  Though the Patrick family is known for their playing abilities, it is the innovation they brought to the game that will forever be their legacy.

For instance, Lester Patrick, a 1947 Hall of Fame inductee, is credited with inventing 22 rules that are still used in the NHL’s rulebook today, with some of the most notable changes being the creation of the forward pass, the addition of the blue line and a change to the overall playoff system.  While Glenn inherited the gene that made him a natural born hockey player who played in the NHL, it is his off-ice contributions and desire to improve the sport and the quality of life of those who play it that help cement his own hockey legacy in the Patrick family lineage.

Glenn’s hockey career began in 1968 with the University of Denver Pioneers where he played two year before graduating.  In 1970, he signed a pro contract with the St. Louis Blues and played his first professional season in 1971-72 split between the Columbus Seals of the now defunct International Hockey League (IHL) and Denver Spurs of the former Western Hockey League (WHL).

At this time, the Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA), which was formed in 1967 was the collective bargaining representative for WHL and American Hockey League (AHL) players.  IHL weren’t yet represented by the PHPA, which was more significant than Patrick had first thought.

“There was a huge difference between playing in the IHL and the WHL,” said Patrick. “In the WHL we had insurance that the PHPA would match, we had a great pension where if we put money in the Association would match that.  As a player, you didn’t have to worry about what would happen if you were injured and your career was put in jeopardy.  It was a different story in the IHL which is why I started taking an interest in what the PHPA was all about.”

The next season, Patrick attended the 1973 PHPA Annual Meeting of Player Representatives in Mexico as the Player Representative for Denver.  It was during this meeting where he was elected President of the PHPA Executive Committee under quite unique circumstances.

“If you know the movie Slapshot, they introduce a sort-of crazy looking guy named Ross ‘Mad-Dog’ Madison.  He’s actually based on a real guy named Connie ‘Mad-Dog’ Madigan.  He was either President or another upper-echelon player representative with the PHPA, and he brought everyone together and noted how we needed young leadership to move forward. I had been involved with various activities and initiatives the PHPA had undertaken, so Connie nominated me to take over his presidency.”

This role was important to Patrick.  Because of his family’s rich hockey history, he had witnessed first hand how players in the past were not treated with the respect they deserved.  “I felt it was important to constantly improve the support that minor league hockey players were receiving, and to strengthen the ties between all parties involved in the bargaining process.” 

This role also meant he was given the opportunity to work alongside PHPA pioneers Curt Leichner (PHPA Executive Director) and Arlo Goodwin (Insurance Agent).

“I loved working with them.  Those guys were the backbone of the whole operation,” said Patrick.  “It was a really cool opportunity to sit in on meetings with NHL General Managers and work with them to try and make everyday things better for the players across all professional hockey.  Sometimes it is the little things that make a big difference in the quality of life for professional hockey players.”

Although Patrick helped make great strides to improve relations between players, leagues, and management, it was not without resistance and turmoil between the parties. “All I wanted to do was stick up for the players after seeing how my family members were treated before the union was formed.  I caught a lot of flack from management because I was representing the players.”

“One year, after sitting in a meeting with the GM’s, three of them actually cornered me and asked why I was even there and what I thought I was doing to try and spook me out of my role,” recalled Patrick.  “There was a lot of animosity between management and players at that time, and the players didn’t get treated with the respect they deserved.”

“The Player Reps stood their ground however, and we even threatened to strike, which caught the General Managers by surprise.  They knew at that point we meant business, which helped turn things around and improve relations.  Players didn’t have to be scared and were no longer threatened to be Player Representatives and associated with the union.

Patrick remained involved with the PHPA until 1980, and would later help initiate the process for the PHPA to become the collective bargaining representative for players in the IHL.

Following his career as a player, Patrick turned his attention to coaching.  “I really liked being around the game and the players.  It was a good way to stay involved in the sport.”

After coaching stints with the Hampton Aces of the EHL and the Peoria Prancers of the IHL, Patrick took a 14-year hiatus from coaching to become a scout.  He returned behind the bench as an Assistant Coach with Syracuse in the AHL for two seasons before being named Head Coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins from 1999 to 2003.  He finished his coaching career with the Wheeling Nailers, where he coached his son Curtiss Patrick, who also served as Wheeling’s PHPA Player Representative. 

“I suggested to Curtiss that he attend the PHPA Annual Meeting because they are a lot of fun, you learn a ton about the business side of the sport, and you get to meet some great people.”

Once Patrick stepped away from the sport at the pro level he decided to spend his time coaching a local high school hockey team, which served as a way to stay connected to the game that he and his family know so well.  Although he is officially retired, Patrick still finds ways to get involved in the hockey community.

Now, as the PHPA celebrates it’s 50th Anniversary, Patrick was selected to serve as one of five Era Representatives at the PHPA’s upcoming 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting this June in Orlando, Florida where he will have the opportunity to address the current crop of Player Representatives.

“I’m very honored that the contributions I made a long time ago haven’t been forgotten,” said Patrick.  “There have been a lot of good players and representatives throughout that time, and I’m definitely looking forward to the trip and hanging around with hockey people again.”

 

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