Clubs around the National Hockey League are celebrating Vancouver-not the Canucks, but the innovations of two Vancouverites responsible for hockey as we know it today.
Lester and Frank Patrick were two professional hockey players form Montreal who moved to Vancouver a century ago and sold assets from the family's lumber fortune to launch the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. They opened Western Canada's first artificial ice rink on Denman Street-one of the worlds largest with 10,500 seats-and built the league around the Vancouver Millionaires, Victoria Aristocrats and New Westminster Royals.
The Millionaires won the Stanley Cup in 1915, sweeping the Ottawa Senators in three games and bringing hockey's holy grail to the west coast for the first time. The win remains Vancouver's only Stanley Cup championship.
But the Patrick brothers' most important contributions to hockey is the reason their history is being highlighted on the websites of NHL clubs like the Washington Capitals and Detroit Redwings. The City of Vancouver is also celebrated since the Patricks lived here when they introduced many of their game-changing rules.
The brothers are credited with establishing the fundamental elements that make hockey the sport it is today, said Gary Selby, the Quebec-based historian who petitioned the NHL to adopt the centennial logo he designed and recognize the historical innovations of the Patrick.
The logo has two black half-circles that suggest the shape of a puck and reads, "Vancouver Hockey Centennial."
Selby believes the development of professional hockey is the greatest story in sport. "The story of hockey not only becoming a truly national pastime in Canada, but hockey's true birth [and] becoming a North American passion," he said.
Selby said the NHL and more than 12 hockey clubs are promoting the centennial. The Canucks are not among them although he said they showed interest. "I think that they are still smarting over what Los Angeles gave them."
The Patricks, who are both in the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame as builders and the Hockey Hall of Fame as athletes, are credited with introducing numbered sweaters, the blue line, three 20-minute periods and even forward passing. Before them, players didn't change on the fly or take penalty shots.
According to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Frank is responsible for 22 modernizations that remain in the NHL rulebook to this day. Together they are often called "the brains of modern hockey."
Patrick is believed to be the first defenceman to score a goal. The brothers also introduced assists on goals and built up a farm system to develop and recruit prospects, giving structure to modern professional hockey and its business practices 100 years later.