Patrick Flatley was a 1983 All-American, a 1983 First-Team All-WCHA selection and a member of the 1983 NCAA All-Tournament team after helping Wisconsin capture the 1983 NCAA mens ice hockey championship. The 21st overall pick by the dynastic New York Islanders during the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, the two-time UW letterwinner went on to a long and prosperous professional hockey career that lasted from 1984 to 1997. In his NHL career, he skated in 918 games, including playoffs, scoring 188 goals and collecting 543 points. As a Badger, he scored 42 goals and 106 points in 76 games over two seasons. We caught up with former Badger standout and Toronto, Ontario native to ask him a few questions, including what he is doing now.
Where do you live and what do you do now
I live in Toronto with four kids and Im married. Im working with the NHL Players Association in the player affairs department. Im involved with all aspects of player welfare - on ice, contacts, insurance, etc.
Fans and interested parties could probably search your name to find out what youve been up to since attending Wisconsin, but fill us in.
I went to the Canadian Olympic Team in 1984, then to the New York Islanders for 13 years. After the Olympics, myself and Pat LaFontaine both signed with the Islanders. We went to the Stanley Cup Finals that first year, but lost to Edmonton. I was captain with the Islanders for six or seven years.
Being a captain in hockey seems to mean more than other sports. Can you explain that
I think with hockey teams, it is a smaller team than some other sports. You spend a lot more time in the dressing room, potentially, because of the equipment. Even when you are a kid, you are in there a lot. Hockey teams are exceptionally close.
The role of the captain is to understand not only the physical aspects of the game and performance, but also to be there for players as an emotional support, and when necessary, help bridge communication with management to help them understand what is going in with the players. Sometimes the players may not feel comfortable discussing things, so you are there to help.
How about since the Islanders
I spent one year with the New York Rangers after that. Then I went to work for the NHL for 10 years with the NHL alumni association and created the Life After Hockey program for retired players. It is a transition program. It involves every aspect of transition. Whatever your strengths may be, the program will work with you to help you begin life after hockey.
What are your thoughts on playing at Wisconsin Do you keep in contact with teammates
I still keep in touch with Chris Chelios, Ted Pearson and there are a few guys here in Toronto. I keep in contact with lots of guys. We were a very close group and whenever anyone calls, it is an automatic call back, for sure, because of our time together.
We were fortunate enough to have maybe two of the greatest hockey leaders in Bob Johnson and Grant Standbrook who really helped us understand the privileges and opportunities we were afforded. Not only to play at Wisconsin, but to be in a hockey arena to play hockey. Ive carried that ever since, right through pro. You have some down days in pro, but when you go back to the fundamentals of Badger Bob and Grant of understanding you are in a hockey arena and you are blessed and so dont worry that you havent scored in six games. That will come. Keep your attitude where it needs to be. We were very lucky as 17 or 18-year-olds to have that drilled into us and have that foundation for the rest of our lives, both in hockey and every other aspect of it.
What is your greatest hockey memory
Winning is always a great memory so winning the NCAA championship. Also, the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Every other memory is all piled into one great memory. Every minute of it was great. It is impossible to distinguish. Im even uncomfortable distinguishing those two because I feel like they are part of the whole fairy tale.
What was it like to play in the Olympics
Any time you have 20 guys coming together as teenagers to represent their country is tremendous. We were probably together for seven or eight months of practicing twice a day. t was a tremendous experience, once we got to the Olympics, to understand the other athletes pain and suffering. To realize further how lucky we were to be playing hockey to be leaving the Olympics and get to go on and do something and potentially make a living at it. Olympians all over the world put every ounce of their soul into this event and then it is over. It was just a great learning experience, expanding your horizons when meeting all the people from all the different countries and traveling during the Olympic year. It is a big world out there and the Olympics certainly help you to understand that.
You said you still keep in touch with Chris Chelios. Can you believe he is still playing in the NHL
Yeah, hell stop playing and the zamboni is going around the ice and hes laying there and he has to get off of it. Until that time comes, I dont think hes leaving the ice. Id love to still be playing. Im coaching my kids now. Certainly around the playoffs I wish I was still playing. It is such a fun time of year. Im happy for Chris. It is a great game and it is great to be around it.