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Patrick, Chase to Claim Lester Patrick Trophy

09/11/2012, 2:45pm MDT
By USA Hockey

NEW YORK, New York – Two longtime pillars of the American hockey community, Washington Capitals executive Dick Patrick and Fort Wayne Komets broadcaster Bob Chase/Wallenstein have been named recipients of the 2012 Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.

The award, one of the most prestigious in hockey, was presented to the National Hockey League by the New York Rangers in 1966. It honors the memory of Lester Patrick, who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach and general manager and was a pioneer in the sport's development. The recipients will be honored during the annual U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction celebration in Dallas on Oct. 15.

A grandson of Lester Patrick and son of former Rangers player and coach Muzz Patrick, Dick Patrick has carried on the unparalleled tradition of franchise building long established by America's first hockey family. Born in Victoria, British Columbia, he grew up in the United States, played college hockey at Dartmouth and earned his law degree from American University.

Since 1982-83, he has served as president of the Washington Capitals. It is no coincidence that the franchise never qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in its eight seasons before Patrick's arrival and has participated in the postseason in 23 of the 29 seasons since – including its 1998 trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Caps owner Ted Leonsis credits Patrick with bringing him into the world of ice hockey in 1999.

Patrick spearheaded construction of the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the Caps' state-of-the-art training facility that also is home to local youth hockey programs. As vice chairman and chief operating officer of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Patrick oversees all revenue generation for the Leonsis-founded company that owns the Capitals, the Washington Wizards of the NBA, the WNBA's Washington Mystics and Verizon Center. Patrick also supervises upgrades and improvements to Verizon Center geared toward enhancing fan experience.  

A legendary and pioneering broadcaster for radio station WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bob Chase/Wallenstein this season will work his 60th season of Fort Wayne Komets hockey.

The native of Negaunee, Michigan, arrived at WOWO in 1953 and began calling games for what then was a second-year franchise. He has been a fixture in their booth ever since, calling their Central Hockey League championship victory last spring.

During his six decades at WOWO, Chase/Wallenstein did it all – including serve as sports director and marketing and promotions director. In addition to doing play-by-play of Komets games, he hosted an on-air show during which he interviewed celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley and he called the famed 1954 Milan High School run to the Indiana state championship that was immortalized in the movie "Hoosiers."

Renowned hockey play-by-play man Mike Emrick credits having met Chase/Wallenstein while in college with inspiring his decision to make broadcasting his career.

Tickets to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Dinner & Ceremony are available by visiting USHockeyHallofFame.com or calling Kevin Couture at 719.538.1184.

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A follow-up to Ian Walsh's NHL career-path article (see Stripes - February 2015)

For the last 15 years, Ian Walsh has crisscrossed the United States as an NHL official. In this Part 2 of our conversation with Walsh, the 42-year-old Philadelphia native fielded a series of questions discussing life on the road, his conditioning schedule, mentors, on-ice struggles, the evolution of the game and advice for aspiring officials. 

USA Hockey: How do you think you've been able to maintain all of the officiating success you've had over the last 15 years?

Ian Walsh: I believe one of my strengths as an official is my work ethic. I come to the rink every night ready to work hard and give 100 percent. I also believe I am very coachable, and when I'm offered a suggestion for improvement, I try very hard to implement that advice into my game.  

USAH: What is your conditioning schedule like during the NHL season? How about during the off-season? 

Walsh: During the season, conditioning work is more about maintaining what you built up over the summer. The workouts aren't as intense but you must continue to take good care of your body. Game-day workouts usually include a 30-minute bike ride or a couple miles run at the hotel gym. I also like to do some core work and light strength training on top of that. 

The weather in Portland is amazing in the summer, and I prefer to be outside and on my road bike. I usually get in about four days a week of riding outdoors to help build my endurance and strength. I try to play hockey a few days a week as well to help work on my skating.

USAH: When did you realize you finally had cemented your career as an official? What was that feeling like?

Walsh: I don't know if you ever get that feeling. Every night is a different challenge in our league. It is a hard, hard league to officiate. The scrutiny of every call, every goal, ever non-call is such a challenge for all of us. The best players and coaches in the world expect us to perform at such a high level every night, and we have to be ready for anything that comes our way. It’s a privilege to be on the ice in the NHL, and I think that is something no official takes for granted.

USAH: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as an official? 

Walsh: Being chosen to participate in four Stanley Cup playoffs is what I'm most proud of. It’s an incredible honor to be selected and that’s the goal for every official each year. Also, being part of the team that was chosen to represent the NHL at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was a phenomenal experience and a great opportunity.

USAH: What has been the biggest hurdle/obstacle you've had to overcome in your officiating career? 

Walsh: I’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood, that I haven’t had any serious injuries. Other than some bumps and bruises, I’ve been relatively injury-free in my career. The biggest challenge is to be able to bounce back from calls you made that aren't correct. In this day and age, we usually know within minutes after the game if we made a wrong decision. When you make a call that impacts the game, it’s hard on the mind. Unfortunately, we make mistakes and what most people don't understand is that nobody takes it harder than the official making that mistake. Being able to bounce back from a mistake is something all officials must learn to do.

USAH: Who has had the most impact on your officiating career over the past 15 years? What has that person or those people taught you?  

Walsh: Nobody has helped me more over my NHL career than fellow referee Paul Devorski. I've worked a lot of games with Paul and we’ve had the opportunity to travel together on the road. As an elite, veteran referee, he has been able to pass down some of his knowledge to me to help me become a better official. Paul is retiring this year, and our staff will sorely miss him.

USAH: How has the game changed, besides speed, since you started in the early 2000s?

Walsh: I would say the biggest change besides the speed of the game would be the use of technology. It is amazing what you see at rink – teams have iPads on the bench, super slo-motion video replays, hi-def video scoreboards, etc. With all that technology, it makes the officials job appear easy. People forget that the official on the ice sees a play one time, in real time, and must make a split-second decision on that play. It often appears quite different when you see a replay in super slo-mo on hi-def after a game.

USAH: What advice can you give aspiring NHL/professional league officials as they progress in their career? 

Walsh: I would say make sure you have a backup plan. Making it to the NHL is everyone’s goal, but there are very few jobs available. There are so many factors that go into hiring an official and a lot of those are out of your control. Go and work the highest level available to you. Don't worry about other officials, if you are good enough, the NHL will find you. Also, control what you can control – always work on your skating, know your rules and come to the rink every night with a strong work ethic and a great attitude.

Tag(s): Lester Patrick Award