An invited guest of NHL Seattle to Tuesday's expansion announcement in Georgia was Bellevue real estate agent Beverley Parsons. She is the niece of Lester Patrick, a 1915 co-founder of the former Stanley Cup champion Seattle Metropolitans.
SEA ISLAND, Ga. — Bellevue realtor Beverley Parsons seemed a tad overwhelmed by it all.
More than 75 years since her “Uncle Lester’’ — the Seattle Metropolitans co-founder from the celebrated Patrick “royal family” of hockey — used to bounce her on his knee, here she was on a podium with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and others celebrating the creation of her hometown’s latest franchise. Parsons, 83, draped in a Metropolitans scarf, admits she’s from the “oldest’’ generation of the living Patrick family members and never thought she’d see the day the NHL finally arrived.
“I’ve wanted it for years and years and years and always dreamed about it,’’ Parsons said. “It didn’t seem as if we would ever do it. So, I’m so thrilled with the men that have made it happen.’’
Parsons lived a block away from Lester Patrick, dubbed “The Silver Fox’’ and by then retired as a Hall of Fame player and serving as general manager of the New York Rangers.
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“So, he came back from the Rangers every year and I would skip down the street, learn everything and then his sons would play with me,’’ she said. “They’re my generation.’’
She doesn’t remember many stories about Patrick’s fabled playing days with the Montreal Wanderers, Victoria Aristocrats and Cougars, then the Metropolitans for a season along with other squads. Nor of how he and his brother, Frank, co-founded the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and then the Metropolitans in 1915.
But they did talk a lot of hockey around the family dinner table, especially when Lester was there with his NHL-playing sons Lynn and Muzz.
“They didn’t brag,’’ she said of the hockey-playing men. “But they would always talk about (Maple Leafs owner) Conn Smythe and what he was doing in Toronto. And about living in New York, how it was so different from Victoria.’’
Her cousin Lynn, later had a son, Craig, a former NHL player now in the Hall of Fame as a builder.
Craig Patrick was an assistant coach to Herb Brooks on the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic team that won the hockey gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics. He later won a pair of Stanley Cups as GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.
“He’s from that younger generation,’’ Parsons said. “Lynn was more of my generation, so he was the one I used to hang out with a lot.’’
It was about two weeks ago the NHL Seattle group approached Parsons to fly here for the awarding of the franchise.
“I said ‘Oh my God, I don’t know if I can do that.’ I was so excited. I thought it’s so wonderful to represent the Patrick family because they did so much.’’
She was accompanied by Jaina Goscinski, 11, a Washington Wild girls’ hockey player in a league run by her mother, Kelly. Goscinski, like Parsons, was also a guest ambassador for the NHL Seattle group and says she hopes having a team will inspire others like her to play the sport.
“I want them to know that pretty much anything is possible now,’’ Goscinski said. “Because now we have an NHL team. When I was younger, I’d wonder ‘How could this happen. Now, it’s happened.’ ’’
The Patrick brothers, Lester and Frank, had tried to bring women’s hockey to Seattle as a league in 1917. The league never started play but did stage a one-off women’s tournament in 1921 with teams that included the Seattle Vamps.
Both brothers died a month apart from heart attacks in 1960. The NHL since 1966 has given an annual Lester Patrick Trophy to honor contributions made to U.S. hockey.
As for Patrick’s niece Parsons, she last attended “a true Patrick family reunion’’ in 1990, but says family members do still visit each other around the country. Her grandfather, Joseph Patrick, the moneyman behind sons Lester and Frank co-founding the PCHA and Metropolitans, “insisted that every cousin know each other and act like we’re brothers and sisters.’’
One of her favorite things when traveling to the East Coast for such visits is educating non-family members about Seattle’s hockey legacy.
“Of course, everyone on the East Coast is so shocked to hear that Seattle won the first American Stanley Cup,’’ she said. “I always shock people with that and give them the facts.’’