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Lester Patrick’s Slocan tryout

Updated: Oct 2

I recently came across a charming anecdote about hockey legend Lester Patrick in West Kootenay that I had never seen before — and in fact found four slightly different versions of it.

The first appeared in the Dayton (Ohio) Herald on Jan. 18, 1937, reprinted from John P. Carmichael’s column in the Chicago Daily News.

Joe Patrick, Lester’s dad, had come west from Quebec looking for uncut timber and a veteran lumberman named Carl Lindow was showing the Patricks over the new district. Around the campfire one evening the talk drifted to hockey. Lindow, running the Slocan City sextet, got wound up on his team’s prospects for the following season.
“Ever play the game” he inquired suddenly of young Les Patrick. The latter sort of smiled and nodded to indicate he had. His interrogator regarded the fire for a spell and then said “Well, if you’re going to stay around here and show any promise you might make my team. How about it?”
The Patricks looked at one another and then Father Joe removed his pipe. “Why don’t you show the fellows your watch?” he suggested to Lester, who thereupon pulled it from his pocket and passed it to Lindow. The local ice magnet appraised it then turned it over on its back. On the reverse side was the following inscription: “Presented to Lester Patrick, captain of the Montreal Wanderers, World Champions 1907-08.”
Mr. Lindow decided the fire needed more wood.

Lester actually won the Stanley Cup with the Wanderers in 1906 and 1907 and the timber cruising trip took place in the fall of 1906. But Carl Lindow was a real guy. Although born in Australia, he was indeed a hockey player, and was mentioned in the Slocan Drill as playing in several games for Slocan in 1904. I wasn’t aware of him ever being a team manager, however.

He later moved to Salmo, where he was owned the Salmo Trading Co. and was postmaster there from 1916-48. He was also involved in the Sheep Creek townsite.

Another version of the story appeared in the Montreal Gazette of Dec. 10, 1947, again quoting John Carmichael, who trotted the story out for Lester Patrick Night in New York.

But there was a night around a campfire in the prairies [sic] west of Quebec when a lumberman named Carl Lindow asked young Patrick if he played hockey. Joe Patrick, Lester’s dad, was looking for uncut timber and it looked like they had found it around Slocan City. Lindow also ran the town hockey team and when young Les said he’d played a little, Lindow went on: “Well, if you’re going to stay around and show any promise you might make my team. How about it?”
The Patricks looked at one another and Pa slowly unclenched his pipe so he could talk. “Why don’t you show the man your watch, boy?” he asked. Lester handed it over hindside up. Lindow read on the case: “Presented to Lester Patrick, captain of the Montreal Wanderers, world champions 1907 and 1908.” Whereupon Mr. Lindow suddenly remembered the fire needed replenishing.

The Gazette commented: “We can almost go for the fable, but how far west of Quebec were those prairies?”

Nelson Daily News sports columnist Walter Wait also trotted the story out on Dec. 22, 1952. While he didn’t attribute it to anyone, it didn’t deviate from the other two versions. However, it included a new coda in which Lindow saved face, sort of.

Next day, [Lindow] recovered some ground. Lester, who packed a new rifle of powerful calibre, and intended to supply the camp with meat, shot five times at a fool hen and didn’t come close. Lester discarded the rifle in something akin to rage and Mr. Patrick offered the rifle to Lindow. The latter took one shot to ‘find’ the sights and then clipped the hen’s head off.

A slightly abbreviated version also appeared in Joseph Patrick’s obituary (at least the one I am looking at from the Ottawa Journal of Jan. 29, 1941), which called it “one of his favourite stories” which he “never tired” of telling.

While the story might be apocryphal, there is actually some suggestion Lester might have suited up for the Slocan City team. According to New Denver’s Slocan Mining Review of Feb. 13, 1908:

Slocan City has challenged the local hockey club to a game, and it will be pulled off here on Wednesday next before the Masquerade Ball starts. The Slocan team hope to bring along to play for them Lester Patrick, who was for several years captain of the famous Wanderers of Montreal.

Alas, the next edition is missing, but some photo evidence exists to suggest that Lester accepted the offer.

I’ve previously written about how Lester regarded a game in Rossland as his greatest ever — actually he probably conflated the memory of a couple of games — and about his return to Nelson in 1948.

Updated on Oct. 1, 2023 to add Walter Wait’s version of the story.

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