Yesterday and Today: Cherrylawn

Cherylawn's NHL Hockey Success

By Tim Lambrinos

One of the finest competitors to ever lace up a pair of skates from the Emery area is Pat Flatley. He established himself in the NHL for 14 seasons between 1983 and 1997 as a shrewd positional player. He played almost exclusively for the New York Islanders with one final season as a New York Ranger.

His parents, Patrick and Margaret Flatley, arrived in Canada from Ireland.

In 1964, they purchased a new home on Cherrylawn Drive in the Gracedale area. Throughout his childhood, young Pat Flatley played baseball, football, tennis, ice hockey and a lot of ball hockey with other area children. He played organized ice hockey at Habitant arena for the Humberview hockey team. During this time, he tried out and was cut from five different MTHL teams.

Unlike his siblings (Aiden, Thelma, Mary and Wayne) he never attended Emery C.I. Flatley attended St. Roch’s Catholic School on Islington Avenue for his elementary years and was urged by his father to attend nearby Father Henry Carr in Etobicoke for high school.

It was to allow Pat to play hockey for the Crusaders, a recognized team of champions. The coaches on the team, Peter Miller and Dan Cameron, helped players excel by holding tough practices at 6:30 a.m.

Friends on his team included Duncanwoods Drive resident Paul Higgins (who later played in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs), John Higgins and Leo Cobb. In all, there were 15 university scholarships extended to Pat’s teammates from this squad.

Pat decided to attend the University of Wisconsin where he played for the Badgers for two seasons. He helped their team win the 1983 NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship. He was named a WCHA first team allstar, tournament allstar and an All-American.

Flatley was consequently drafted 21st overall by the New York Islanders in 1982. In his first NHL game against the Winnipeg Jets he scored on his very first shot on goal. He played in just 16 regular season games for the Islanders that year, then competed for Team Canada where he scored 34 goals in 54 games. The Canadian National Team of 1983-84 won a bronze medal while contending against teams from Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. However, they used adult professional men as competitors. (Pat maintains that it was the U.S. Basketball Dream Team that ruined future athletic opportunities for university students, including winning gold medals at the Olympics).

For the opening of the NHL playoffs, Pat was put on a power line with Brent Sutter and Clark Gillies where he scored nine goals through the first three rounds of the playoffs. He became a go-to player for the Islanders in their drive for a fifth consecutive Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, they lost in the Stanley Cup final to Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers.

In 1991, Brent Sutter was unexpectedly traded to the Chicago Black Hawks and Pat was chosen to be the new captain of the team. The kid from Cherrylawn that five MTHL teams wanted no part of, was now the captain of the New York Islanders.

Throughout his career in the 1980s and 1990s, Flatley was viewed as a highly effective role player who demonstrated smart positional play and exhibited outstanding defensive skills. Respectfully, he was regarded as “The Chairman of the Boards” by his teammates because he rarely failed to dig the puck out of the corners. In 1996, Flatley signed a one year deal with the New York Rangers that would be his last season in the NHL. Overall, he played in 780 regular season games, scored 170 goals and had 340 assists for a total of 510 points in the NHL. His best scoring season was in 1992–93 when he collected 47 assists and had 60 points in 80 games.

These days, Pat still enjoys lacing up a pair of blades and currently serves as coach for the Toronto Titans hockey team. A position he has held since 2013. Beginning in 2007, Pat coached the Toronto Nat s hockey team. He is a dedicated father to his four children; Emily, Pat, Jack and Liam and has coached all of their hockey teams.

In 2007, Pat Flatley was inducted into the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame. In 2012, he was inducted into the New York Islanders Hall of Fame. And in 2013, Pat Flatley’s sporting accomplishments were recognized by the Emery BIA and put on display on the Humber Summit historic marker located at the intersection of Satterly Road and Plunkett Road.

(Top) Donovan “Razor” Ruddock presenting Pat Flatley with a scroll at Humber Summit’s Historic Marker in 2016. (Centre) Pat Flatley playing for the New York Islanders. (Above) Flatley plays for Team Canada.