On The Couch With Craig returns with old college pal and teammate Steve Patch
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Steve Patch and I go way back. We attended Wesleyan University (Middletown, Connecticut) together. We were teammates on Wesleyan’s hockey team (I was a goalie; he was a forward). We spent a lot of weekend (and weekday) night’s dissecting R.E.M.’s multi-layered album covers with a couple of other close friends, and we still get together when I go back to New York to cover the Coyotes.
I don’t know how it happened, but I became our group’s designated driver for many off-campus escapades, whether it was an R.E.M./10,000 Maniacs concert in Hartford, or a drive up the spooky, tree-lined road that led to Middletown’s sanitarium, in Andy Weissman’s powder blue Mazda GLC.
Note: Patch has no memory of this; nor does Weissman.
Patch and I last got together for dinner in Brooklyn (with Olivia Wilde and Brooke Shields at nearby tables) on the Coyotes’ last trip to New York in October 2019 — before the world stopped — but we have been texting frequently during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Patch becomes the 14th AZ Coyotes Insider founding member to take the couch. Steve, you have the floor.
Full name: Steven William Patch
Twitter account: @thetapeleader
Birthplace: Oceanside, New York (Long Island!)
Current city of residence: Rhinecliff, New York (Hudson Valley, two hours north of New York City)
Arizona history: None; absolutely zero
Occupation: Owner, Cabin Fever Outfitters
Hobbies: Armchair GM, play fourth line in a men’s over-50 league, rabid Tottenham Hotspur, Boston Bruins and Red Sox fan. Care little about other sports, teams.
Pandemic adopted hobbies: Attempted to write the next great American novel but didn’t get past the dedication page.
Little known fact about you: Was a child actor. Will not elaborate any further...
How, where and when did you start playing hockey?
I actually started late. Even though my father was born and raised on the north shore of Boston, he was in the military and we moved around a lot. He was a great college hockey player, even played some semi-pro for the Rhein-Main Rockets in Germany but we never lived in a place with winters cold enough for pond skating or rinks for that matter until we moved to southern New Hampshire (Milford) in 1976 when I was 9.
From that point forward, I skated every chance I had. Honeypot Pond was about 200 yards from my front door. Instructional league, then Squirt B, Squirt A. I was a quick learner. I was too old to ever play mites for the Southern New Hampshire Youth Hockey Association.
What was your greatest youth hockey moment?
I mean, there were some hat tricks and game-winning goals but not any championships or tourney wins that I can remember. We were one of the smaller town programs up against the giants like Nashua and Manchester.
Have the Bruins always been your favorite team?
Always. I remember really getting into it after we moved in 1976 when the Bruins had traded for Brad Park and Jean Ratelle. My dad’s favorite players were always the guys who could really skate and Jean Ratelle was such a graceful skater, not just powerful but graceful. Sometimes, people don’t understand that part of being a hockey fan. The outsiders always think it’s because of the fighting or checking and don’t get me wrong I love a good hard fought hockey game, but because of my dad, I always loved guys who could skate even if they were on the other team, like Guy Lafleur.
Keep in mind, back then the Canadiens dominated the Bruins and were a bigger rival than anyone, but my dad would always point out Lafleur rushing the puck. Of course, the Bruins also had guys like Rick Middleton and the legacy of Bobby Orr at that point. And of course Terry O’Reilly, Stan Jonathan and John Wensink.
An aside, I didn’t learn until this year that the reason that Jean Ratelle skated so upright and powerfully with his legs was because he had broken his back when he was younger and couldn't skate with a lower center of gravity.
What are your favorite Bruins memories and worst Bruins nightmares?
Favorite Bruins memory: Wow, that’s going to be tough. I’d say it’s a toss-up between the brawl with the Rangers at MSG when Mike Milbury went into the stands, pulled a Rangers fan’s shoe off and threw it at him, and maybe the 2011 Stanley Cup. But seriously, while beating Vancouver was great, the real favorite of 2011 was the seven games against Montreal which was the most hard-fought series I can ever remember. At the beginning of the pandemic, NESN replayed the entire 2011 playoff run and being able to watch those games again was a great thrill.
Worst nightmare was losing the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final at home to the Blues in 2019. I wanted them to win another one for Big Z (Zdeno Chara).
You played hockey at Wesleyan University. Who would you say was the best goalie you ever played with at Wes?
The elephant in the room question! Clearly the best goalie was Steve Balter or Brian Gottlieb. Toss up. Miss ya’ Brian.
(Editor’s note: Mr. Patch’s subscription has been revoked)
Tell AZ Coyotes Insider readers more about your past work in the music industry and why you chose that profession.
Well, I was always a fan of music. When I graduated, I was 100 percent sure I didn’t want to work on Wall Street or any other kind of office job so I did the normal things and left to bartend in Paris and travel as much as I could afford on tips in a country which didn’t tip — so not a ton of traveling especially after the first Gulf War began.
All of the American bars and restaurants closed so no job, no more cash flow, so in the weeks before I left to come home, I would kill time by going to WH Smith on the Rue de Rivoli and sit on the floor in the back and read every newspaper and magazine cover to cover because I had the time but no money to buy them. One day, I was reading a musician magazine and there was an article called “The day in the life of an A&R person.” It probably said “guys” because they were pretty much all guys back then, sadly.
There was a quote from one of them that was roughly “You don’t know how hard it is to listen to music all day and go out to see bands every night.” At that exact moment, I knew my mission was to find out for myself just how hard that job actually was. Needless to say, I eventually ended up working for Capitol Records as well as a few other labels along the way with appropriate detours into two music startups during both respective internet bubbles (1998 and 2008) so I was in and around it for roughly 20 years.
It’s hard to describe my tenure in the music business with one job title. I’ve worked for a few different types of media companies but the one consistent theme I guess has been artist relations and working with musicians that I respect and whose songwriting and performances are transcendent, versus successful, in the grander scheme of things. That’s an inelegant way of saying nothing I signed was a huge success commercially, but that never mattered to me as much as my bosses.
At EMI Music Publishing, I was fortunate to work with a band called Sense Field, a very melodic, post-hardcore band. They were born out of a west coast hardcore band called Reason to Believe and on a New York hardcore label called Revelation, which had relocated to Huntington Beach, California. The singer, Jon Bunch, I think sounded a lot like Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac and their guitar-heavy music was swirling melodies and these amazing harmonies. They put out a few records with Revelation Records and then signed a pretty big deal with Warner Bros. that came with big money and therefore big expectations. Jon passed away a few years ago and there was this amazing tribute to him in California. Jon Bunch forever. He will be missed and definitely seek out their records at RevHQ.com. They were awesome.
After signing Sense Field to a pub deal and then seeing them move on to a big major label deal, I too moved on to Capitol Records and signed one of my all-time favorite bands called Ida from the D.C. area who were on a little label called Simple Machines which literally wrote the book on DIY self-releasing music in the early 90s. My highlight of working with Ida was making two records in Woodstock at Dreamland Studios with their paltry budget. One of the tracks on their record “Will You Find Me” features Bernie Worrell of Parliament Funkadelic, which was a career highlight for me. To watch and listen to him record on their album was pretty special.
I will skip ahead to the last company I worked for which was one of the first D2C (direct to consumer) media companies on the landscape called Topspin Media. Without getting too granular, our company built a platform that lived underneath said bands website, enabling them to bundle digital music with physical goods. It was the wild west at the time but I signed up dozens of artists to the platform. The one that stands out for me was a live performance by Lou Reed of Metal Machine Music which I don’t believe had ever been performed live, let alone recorded before this project. Of course, we lost Lou not too long after this was released. Magic... and loss.
Why did R.E.M. resonate so much with you and when did the band's run truly end for you?
I think R.E.M. resonated with me so much because they were the first band I found that wasn’t something I nicked from my sister’s record collection or off the radio. I started to buy Trouser Press magazine around ‘80, ‘81 and back then quite a few came with flexi discs. I got an issue that had a flexi disc with “Wolves, Lower” on it before the EP “Chronic Town” came out, and from there it was off to the races for me with R.E.M. Things started to fade with the album “Document.” When they released “It's The End Of The World As We Know It” and then I was done and dusted by the album “Out of Time” with “Losing My Religion.” I figured the MTV generation could have them and I would move on to other bands.
What line of work are you in now and what do you like about it?
Roundabout 1999, I bought a house in the Hudson Valley, met a lovely lady, had a kid and started thinking seriously about starting a small business on the side in Woodstock, New York so we wouldn’t have to commute back and forth to the city anymore. Then 9/11 happened, a lot changed overnight and that plan accelerated so we decided to open an outdoor specialty store (Cabin Fever Outfitters) that sold hiking and camping accoutrements, maps, books and the like.
We opened a second location in Rhinebeck in 2004, closed Woodstock and we’ve been here ever since. Personally, I can’t stand retail because in general I don’t like people very much. Haha! I jest (only slightly), but we’ve built a pretty sweet family-oriented small business and I love being my own boss, picking the stuff we sell and having the freedom to close early on a Saturday so I can travel across the river for my other job.
I’m the volunteer play-by-play commentator for our fourth tier, semi-pro soccer club, Kingston Stockade FC. It’s kinda like short season single-A minor league baseball used to be before the MLB restructured minor league baseball. There are six teams so home and home schedule means we play 10 games in May and June. We broadcast the five home games at www.stockadefc.com/live.
What do you want to see from your hockey coverage?
Wow. First we had the elephant-in-the-room question and now here is the softball of all eephus-pitch questions. No, seriously, what I would like to see from my hockey coverage (are you listening Boston?) is exactly what you’re doing, Craig. Trusted journalism. Researched, comprehensive beyond the obvious coverage of the big club, the AHL club, draft previews, interviews with staff and ownership. Keep on keeping on, my friend. You’re doing a helluva job and I enjoy all of your coverage even though I am thousands of miles from AZ.
Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter: @CraigSMorgan
Craig, writing about hockey memories with old friends is a great thing to do. Having been raised in MA hockey scene, I moved to CT as a sophomore in high school. You said you and Steve played at Wesleyan in Middletown,, CT. I played at UConn in Storrs. Transplanted Coyotes fan, but I still try to keep my finger on the pulse of Boston hockey. I met and talked to Matt Grzelcyk's father when I was at a Bruins game in November 2019. It turns out they are good friends with Connor Garland and his family, who grew up and played 15 minutes from where I did. Cheers to good memories.
Working with Lou Reed in the music business would have been an “ on the couch” story all alone. Every song reminds me of hanging out at “ Caveat Emptor”, the used book store at Indiana University back in the 60’s. There’s nothing like listening to “ The Kids” after midnight, and that great bass.