Becker living a dream with Blackhawks
Patrick Becker knew back in October what hockey fans across the country have learned over the past month: The Chicago Blackhawks were destined to win the Stanley Cup.
Becker, a 1997 Rochester John Marshall graduate, could sense the team's excitement and confidence during his daily chats with Blackhawks players.
"We all pretty much knew from the start of the season how good they could be," Becker said. "From the start of training camp we knew that anything less than winning the Stanley Cup wouldn't be a success. This team had that swagger and confidence from Day 1."
Becker wasn't with the Blackhawks in Philadelphia on Wednesday when they topped the Flyers, 4-3 in overtime, to win their first Stanley Cup since 1961. In fact, Becker isn't even employed by the team. But he played a big role in keeping many of Chicago's players on the ice.
Becker works as a physical therapist at a clinic in suburban Chicago, a clinic that the Blackhawks contract with. Becker's role has grown in each of the three years he has worked with the Blackhawks.
This season, he was primarily in charge of putting injured players through their therapy sessions when the team was on the road. Becker would stay in Chicago with players who did not make road trips.
"I'm the only provider of rehab for the players when the team's gone," said Becker, whose parents, Gil and Linda, and brother, Tom, still live in Rochester. He also has a sister who lives in Madison, Wis.
Becker said his background in hockey helped him quickly gain respect from some of the team's top players, many of whom exchanged text messages with him throughout the playoffs, even when the team was on the road.
He was a defenseman for John Marshall during his high school career, and was a member of the 1996 Rockets team, coached by Bruce Frutiger, that won a section championship and played in the state tournament. That team was loaded with talent; his teammates that year included goalie Derek Link, Brian Buskowiak, BJ Abel and Aaron Gill.
"It does help that I played," Becker said. "I can talk shop and skate with the guys who are rehabbing. It's fun to able to get out on the ice."
While Becker cannot talk about specific players he worked with or their injuries, he did say that forward Marian Hossa was among his favorite players on this year's team. Hossa signed a massive 12-year, $62.8 million deal with Chicago last July after playing on back-to-back Stanley Cup-losing teams in Pittsburgh and Detroit. Hossa missed 25 regular season games this season with an injured right shoulder.
"I didn't have a single bad experience with any of the guys," Becker said. "Hossa, the guy is World Class, an unbelievable teammate and person. There are no prima donnas on the team. That's what made this year so fun; the whole team is that way."
Becker not only has a good rapport with the Blackhawks players, but also with the team's training staff. The Blackhawks' trainers approached Becker's bosses to request that he would be given his current role with the team.
"The whole reason I moved to Chicago was to work for the company I'm with," he said. "They have contracts with all the major sports teams and my goal was to get on with the Blackhawks. The fact that I was able to achieve that after just five years is still surreal."