Patterson combined speed and anticipation to establish himself as one of the NHL's best defensive forwards. A tremendous forechecker who would sacrifice his body without thought, Patterson was hard worker and dedicated athlete. He was also a character in the locker room, always cracking jokes to keep the team loose.
Patterson was signed as a free agent by Calgary after an impressive amateur career with Clarkson University. In three seasons with Clarkson, he scored 64 goals and 155 points in 99 games. Patterson thanks his college coaches for making him a better hockey player.
"Billy O’Flaherty and Terry Meagher really pushed me to the limit of my skill capabilities and allowed me to leave after my junior (third) year to pursue a professional hockey career. Along with my parents they were instrumental in making sure I went back to university over the summers to finish off my degree.”
Following his collegiate career, Patterson played with the Colorado Flames of the Central Hockey League before joining Calgary on a regular basis in 1983-84. In his first NHL season, he scored 13 goals and 27 points in 56 games. During the 1984-85 campaign, he recorded career-highs with 22 goals and 43 points in 57 games.
Patterson was a key figure on the Flames roster for the next four seasons and especially during the 1988-89 campaign. He established a career-high 24 assists and totaled 38 points during the regular season that year and was a solid performer for the club in the postseason. In 22 playoff games in 1989, he totaled 13 points and helped the Flames to their first Stanley Cup championship.
His kamikaze style of play finally caught up to him by 1989. His knee was so banged up he had to have reconstructive knee surgery in the summer. That surgery cost him the entire 1989-90 season.
After a rehabilitation period that would leave most exhausted, Patterson returned to the NHL for the 1990-91 season. Unsure of his knee, the Flames dealt Patterson to Buffalo where he finished out his career by playing the next two seasons.
Patterson left the NHL with career totals of 96 goals, 109 assists and 205 points in 504 regular season games. In 85 playoff contests, he had 29 points.