Written by Eric Welsh ; The Chilliwack Progress
A man with a million stories to tell from the game of hockey is calling it a career after one more year.
Chilliwack Chiefs trainer Brian Patafie announced on social media Monday morning that 2021-22 will be his last season, ending a 43-year run.
“I knew this time would come around eventually and I’ve prepared myself the best I can for it, however, when that final horn blows on my last game on the bench it’ll probably hit me like a ton of bricks!” Patafie wrote on Facebook. “I’ve been blessed, and it’s been an incredible ride and I will say this. I am extremely excited to spend this upcoming season again living in one of the most beautiful places on the planet in Chilliwack, British Columbia.”
Patafie’s long hockey history includes 15 years (1983-1998) in the Calgary Flames organization, either with the National Hockey League club or it’s minor-pro affiliates. He worked with the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67s and spent time overseas working in Germany.
Patafie first helped the Chiefs at the 2016-17 Western Canada Cup, and joined the BCHL team full-time in 2018.
A man with a way with words, Patafie said he’s known the last 10 years “that the ball was sitting on the 18th green ready for that final putt.”
After talking it over with friends, family and people he respects in the industry, he told Chiefs hockey boss Brian Maloney about his decision in April.
“I assured him I will leave things better than I found them,” Patafie said. “I’ll help him out next spring in the transition process, mentoring his new hire so that person can be apprised on how the Chiefs do things.”
He’s happy he’s going to be able to wrap up his career with the Chiefs, calling the franchise one of the best he’s worked for.
“From the ownership through the coaches and into the office, they’re a junior A franchise in name only,” Patafie said. “They operate like a professional program, putting all the components in place to optimize both player performance and fan experience.
“Coming to work daily is an absolute pleasure.”
Patafie authored a book titled Ice it Down: A look at pro hockey through a trainer’s eyes. He’s recently penned a followup titled No Days Off: the story of a hockey purgatory. His second book is scheduled to be released in 2022 and includes stories from his time in Chilliwack.
Patafie also plans to stay busy on the keynote speaker/comedian circuit.
He said he’ll be making Chilliwack home post-retirement, and you can still expect to run into him at the Chilliwack Coliseum.
“I actually told Barry Douglas that after I step away from hockey ops, if he needs another game night volunteer I’d love to help out,” Patafie said. “I have Zamboni water running through my veins and I’ll need the odd topping off at times.”