Lester Patrick had long been heralded as one of the most influential hockey men ever. Now he was coaching in the NHL, guiding the New York Rangers all the way to the 1928 Stanley Cup. With his graying hair he was dubbed The Silver Fox.
En route to New York's first Stanley Cup, Patrick immortalized himself almost to his own detriment. Few have ever had as big an impact on hockey than Patrick, but he is almost universally known for his feat in the 1928 Stanley Cup finals.
Goaltender Lorne Chabot was struck in the eye by a Nels Stewart shot in game 2. The wound was so bad that Chabot was unable to continue. Back in those days teams didn't carry back up netminders, forcing Patrick to scramble for a replacement.
Patrick wanted to use Ottawa's puckstopping ace Alec Connell, who was in attendance that night. But the Maroons refused to agree to that. In fact, Maroons coach Eddie Gerard's response included "why the hell doesn't Lester play?"
"I will, by God, I will."
Murray Murdoch, a forward with that Rangers team, recalled the night in John Devaney and Burt Goldblatt's book The Stanley Cup:
"We were all standing around trying to decide what to do. Lester was looking around at us to see who could play goal, and I said to him, 'Not me, Lester, not me.' The Maroons coach sent over a note saying, 'If you need a goalkeeper, why the hell doesn't Lester play?' Lester said, 'I will, by God, I will.'
"He put on the pads and out he went. Well, we made sure they didn't get too close to him. We went out to the blue line and made them shoot from way out. The officials were kind to us; we have held them a little bit to keep them out. Anyway, Lester stayed low on the ice, on his hands and knees, and they got only that one by him, and after Boucher's goal, we really did mob him.
As amazing as that story was, there was no way Patrick wanted a sequel in the following game. He went out a signed an infamous minor league goalie who also deserves great credit for the 1928 Stanley Cup championship, but never gets it.
For the remainder of the series Patrick signed Joe Miller, a former New York Americans goaltender who let in so many goals he was nicknamed Red Light Miller. Miller proved to be very capable between the pipes, winning games 4 and 5, while surrendering just three goals in three games. He even registered a shutout in game 4.
Despite his key role in the Stanley Cup championship, Miller refused to stay in New York for the victory party.
"Lorne Chabot and I are pals," he said. "I don't want to take any glory from him."
For more info on the 1928 Stanley Cup finals, check out Third String Goalie.