Monday, 23 May 2016

The Brothers Of Victoria (Day)!

Victoria Day is a federal Canadian holiday that honours Queen Victoria's birthday. It's a pretty important day in Canadian history as it is generally recognized as the day of Canada's sovereign birthday, and it usually seen as the first long weekend of the summer in the Great White North. In my neck of the woods, it's usually a weekend marked by rain and/or snow depending on the temperature, but precipitation is normal. Today, however, we look at the city of Victoria, named for the former Queen of the United Kingdom and British North America, and the many exceptional NHL players who have called this city home!

The first two players are brothers, but the name is very current in the minds of anyone following the NHL. Both players play for the Dallas Stars, and Jamie and Jordie Benn are front-and-center at the heart of the Stars' resurgence in the NHL.

Jamie has become one of the NHL's best scoring threats, and has been in talks for a number of NHL trophies. He has an Art Ross Trophy to his name already, and helped Canada capture the gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. Despite his scoring prowess and NHL stardom, he's actually the younger brother of the other Benn child, Jordie!

Jordie Benn is a defenceman with the Dallas Stars, and his path to the NHL has taken a little longer than Jamie's path did. He's a solid two-way rearguard who often plays a shutdown role for the Stars. Jordie has seen time in the ECHL, CHL, and AHL, taking him from Victoria to Allen, Texas to Cedar Park, Texas with him finally landing a top-six spot in Dallas. Perhaps the greatest fact about Jordie's career thus far? He played for a BCHL team called the Victoria Salsa. Yes, Jamie played for the Salsa as well. Ok, a better fact would be that Jordie's first NHL point came on a goal that both he and Jamie assisted on tht was scored by Loui Eriksson. The brothers are doing everything they can to catch the Gretzkys!

Born in 1912, one of hockey's greatest innovators and builders called Victoria home. Lynn Patrick played in 455 NHL games, scoring 335 points and winning the 1940 Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers. His father, Lester, and uncle, Frank, were founders of the Pacific Coast Hockey League, and both have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His brother, Muzz, and sons, Craig and Glenn, also played in the NHL! Lynn also served two years for the United States military in World War II!

After returning from the war, he played one more season before being named as the AHL head coach of the New Haven Ramblers before taking over the head coaching duties for the New York Rangers in 1949. He would move onto the Bruins in 1950 where he coached until 1955, and took of the general manager duties from 1954 until 1964! He would be named as the first GM and head coach of the St. Louis Blues before giving the coaching job to Scotty Bowman. He retired in 1977 from the game, but still attended Blues games as often as he could.

January 26, 1980 saw tragedy fall upon Patrick as he suffered a heart attack while driving home from a Blues game, and died in a car accident. In recognition of his accomplishments, Patrick was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980 and was a recipient of the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1989. He was 67 when he passed away. Rest in peace, Mr. Patrick.

Since I mentioned him above, Murray "Muzz" Patrick was also an NHL veteran. Muzz was born in 1915, and he was a multi-sport athlete before settling on hockey. Muzz won the Canadian amateur heavyweight boxing title in 1934, and began playing for the Eastern Amateur Hockey League's New York Cresecents in the winter of 1934 after spending the previous years studying at McGill University. In 1938, Muzz got the call from the New York Rangers and suited up in the NHL!

Along with his brother, Lynn, Muzz helped the Rangers win the 1940 Stanley Cup as a defenceman. He was fierce and rugged on the Rangers' blue line, never shying away from the rougher game. Muzz only managed five goals and 26 assists in 166 NHL games, but he was respected for his toughness.

Muzz also served in the United States military from 1941-45 where he attained the rank of captain as he helped the Allied Forces win World War II. He, like Lynn, would return from the war and play one more season with the Rangers before finishing his playing career in the minor leagues. He would also gain experience as a coach in the lower tiers before the Rangers called him to take over the coaching duties in 1954! In his one-and-a-half seasons as the Rangers' boss, he missed the playoffs both times. He jumped upstairs to the GM role for the next ten years after his brief coaching stint. He named himself as the interim head coach for two games in 1959-60 - he went 0-1-1 - and as the head coach in 1962-63 before resigning after 34 games where he posted an 11-19-4 record - worst in the NHL at that point.

Muzz would become a family man after his last stint in the NHL as head coach. He and his wife, Jessie, had four children who would bless them with twelve grandchildren! Muzz would pass away in 1998 at the age of 83. While he wasn't honoured with any major accolades, he will always be a Stanley Cup champion! Rest in peace, Mr. Patrick!

There are other names that fans will recognize who hail from Victoria - Tyson Barrie, Joe Reekie, Ryan O'Byrne, and Rick Lapointe - but the Patricks and Benns are the only sets of brothers to hail from Victoria and have both play in the NHL on the same team. And if the Benns can get Dallas out of the Central Division in the NHL Playoffs, they could become the second brother tandem from Victoria to win the Stanley Cup while playing on the same team!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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