Over the past decade, James Patrick has been the right hand man of one of the NHL’s most well-known coaches, Lindy Ruff. However, Ruff’s future is in doubt after the Dallas Stars declined to extend both he and Patrick. Patrick has embraced the unknown and decided to strike out on his own. The Kootenay Ice of the major junior Western Hockey League announced today that they have hired Patrick as their new head coach. It is a three-year contract for Patrick, as he looks to turn around the team that finished dead last in the WHL in 2016-17.
Patrick is long overdue for a head coaching job. Patrick finished up his long 21-year NHL career after the 2003-04 season with the Buffalo Sabres. He re-joined his former team to work for his former head coach not long after, joining the Buffalo staff ahead of the 2006-07 season. Patrick spent seven seasons in Buffalo under Ruff and then followed him to Dallas for four more campaigns. In addition to his coaching career, Patrick recorded 639 points in 1280 NHL games with the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames and Sabres and was also an NCAA champion at the University of North Dakota in 1982.
While Patrick’s hire is big news, it certainly won’t be the biggest announcement in the Patrick family this June, as his nephew, Nolan Patrick, is one of the upcoming NHL Draft’s top picks and could very easily be picked first overall by the New Jersey Devils. Should Patrick find success as the head coach in Kootenay, he could one day end up coaching his nephew (or against him) at the NHL level.