The best part of receiving the Lester Patrick Trophy, Bob Chase protégé Mike Emrick says, is not actually receiving the award.
``The day is magnificent because your family is there,'' said Emrick, the 2004 award winner. ``This is the thing that is unappreciated until you go through it, Most of the time in your life your family and your work don't intersect. This is the one time that it does. You remember that when you look out and you see people who are part of your family and then at the table next to them are people who are part of your work life, and in many cases they had not met before.''
The award is presented by USA Hockey and the National Hockey League for service to hockey in the United States. After entering his 60th season broadcasting the Komets on Friday night, Chase, 86, will share the honor tonight in Dallas with Washington Capitals president Dick Patrick, the grandson of the man the award is named after. The presentation is part of the USA Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremonies which will include Lou Lamoriello, Mike Modano and Eddie Olczyk.
Past winners include Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, former NHL commissioners and Olympic gold medal-winning teams - basically a Who's Who of the Hockey Hall of Fame. This would be comparable to an actor receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Oscars.
Chase's wife Murph, daughter Karin and son David will be in attendance with him, along with Emrick. Owner Stephen Franke and team president Michael Franke will represent the Komets along with former Komets' great Terry Pembroke who lives in Texas and is battling cancer for the third time.
``I'm really thrilled to see Terry after all he's been through and continues to go through,'' Chase said. ``He's a tough guy. When you talk to him, you'd never dream he's as seriously ill as he is.''
Luckily, Chase doesn't have to deliver a speech because he expects to be very emotional. Chase's duties include receiving his own replica of the trophy from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and showing up for a pre-banquet chat with Patrick moderated by ESPN's Steve Levy. They are scheduled to tell stories for about 30 minutes before the dinner starts.
``You have something tangible to take home, and it's a heavy little trophy,'' Emrick said. ``It's solid and it's heavy, and you are looking out over the crowd and you see not only your family there, but all also a lot of people in the industry that you never see in one place together.''
The real trophy will be inscribed with Richard Patrick and Bob Chase/Wallenstein (his real name) and will remain in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Only four media members have previously been honored with the Patrick Award: broadcaster Dan Kelly, broadcaster Fred Cusick, writer Stan Fischler, broadcaster John Davidson and Emrick who grew up in LaFountaine listening to Chase.
Since the award was announced Sept. 11, Chase has been receiving numerous congratulatory cards and phone calls from all over the hockey world.
``There's a lot of gratitude I owe to so many people who have been in my corner and have gone to bat for me,'' Chase said. ``It's endless the people who kind of rallied in whatever manner they did to kind of help keep my presence in front of those who make the difference.''
Asked for his general thoughts about the award, Chase credited original Komets owners Ernie Berg, Harold Van Orman and Ramon Perry among others.
``Where would I be in this life if they had not had the foresight to start hockey in Fort Wayne?'' he said. ``Then of course the guy who made the difference and kept hockey in Fort Wayne is Ken Ullyot, who is the savior of hockey as we know it today. I don't think anybody in their wildest dreams would have ever imagined that the Frankes would be so successful. You knew they were good, they were sincere and hard-working, but they have turned a minor league franchise into a major league image thanks to all they have done. And, of course, all the players.
``It's all one great big huge conglomeration of all kinds of things, and I owe whatever I have to all of that. It's all a part of the picture that has given me the honor I'm getting.''
Lester Patrick Trophy
The Lester Patrick Trophy is an annual award presented for outstanding service to hockey in the United States. Eligible recipients are players, officials, coaches, executives and referees. The winner is selected by an award committee consisting of the president of the NHL, an NHL governor, a representative of the New York Rangers, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame builder's section, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame player's section, a member of the U. S. Hockey Hall of Fame, a member of the NHL Broadcasters' Association and a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. Except for the league president, each member is rotated annually. The winner(s) receive a miniature of the trophy. The Patrick Trophy was created by the New York Rangers in 1966 to honor the late Lester Patrick. Patrick was a longtime general manager and coach of the Rangers, whose teams finished out of the playoffs only once in his first 16 years with the club.
Previous Lester Patrick Trophy winners
1966: J.J. Jack Adams
1967: Gordie Howe, James Norris Sr.
1968: Gen. John R. Kilpatrick, Walter A. Brown, Thomas F. Lockhart
1969: Bobby Hull, Edward J. Jeremiah
1970: James C.V. Hendy, Eddie Shore
1971: William M. Jennings, Terry Sawchuk, John B. Sollenberger
1972: Clarence S. Campbell, John Kelly, James D. Norris, Ralph Cooney Weiland
1973: Walter L. Bush
1974: Weston W. Adams Sr., Charles L. Crovat, Alex Delvecchio, Murray Murdoch
1975: William L. Chadwick, Donald M. Clark, Thomas N. Ivan
1976: Bruce A. Norris, Stan Mikita, George A. Leader
1977: Murry A. Armb, Johnny Bucyk, John Mariucci
1978: Phil Esposito, Tom Fitzgerald, William T. Tutt, William Wirtz
1979: Bobby Orr
1980: Bobby Clarke, Fred Shero, Edward M. Snider, 1980 men's U.S. Olympic team
1981: Charles M. Schultz
1982: Emile P. Francis
1983: Bill Torrey
1984: Arthur Ross, John A. Ziegler Jr.
1985: Jack Butterfield, Arthur M. Wirtz
1986: John MacInnes, Jack Riley
1987: Hobey Baker, Frank Mathers
1988: Keith Allen, Fred Cusick, Bob Johnson
1989: Dan Kelly, Lou Nanne, Lynn Patrick, Bud Poile
1990: Len Ceglarski
1991: Rob Gilbert, Mike Illitch
1992: Al Arbour, Art Berglund, Lou Lamoriello
1993: Frank Boucher, Red Dutton, Bruce McNall, Gil Stein
1994: Wayne Gretzky, Robert Ridder
1995: Joe Mullen, Brian Mullen
1996: George Gund, Ken Morrow, Milt Schmidt
1997: Seymour H. Knox III, Bill Cleary, Pat LaFontaine
1998: Peter Karmanos, Max McNab, Neal Broten, John Mayasich
1999: 1988 women's U.S. Olympic team, Harry Sinden
2000: Mario Lemieux, Craig Patrick, Lou Vairo
2001: Gary Bettman, Scotty Bowman, David Poile
2002: Herb Brooks, Larry Pleau, 1960 men's U.S. Olympic team
2003: Willie O'Ree, Ray Borque, Ron DeGregorio
2004: Mike Emrick, John Davidson, Ray Miron
2005: Now award presented
2006: Steve Yzerman, Red Berenson, Reed Larson, Glen Sonmor, Marcel Dionne
2007: Brian Leetch, Cammi Granato, Stan Fischler, John Halligan
2008: Bob Naegele Jr., Brian Burke, Phil Housely, Ted Lindsay
2009: Mark Messier, Mike Richter, Jim Devellano
2010: Dave Andrews, Cam Neely, Jack Parker, Jerry York
2011: Mark Johnson, Jeff Sauer, Tony Rossi, Bob Pulford
2012: Bob Wallenstein/ Chase, Richard Patrick