When a player gets drafted into the NHL, the dream is to be able to make a career with one team. But for most, this isn’t the case. When most people think of long-time Carolina Hurricanes players, it’s Cam Ward, Eric Staal, Glen Wesley, and Rod Brind’Amour that come to mind, with the latter two having their numbers retired with the franchise. All of these players had brief stints with other franchises in their careers, even if it was for one season.
In their time, these four men saw many guys come through the lineup. Some stayed for several seasons. Others dawned the Carolina red sweater for a short time. In this series, we are going to look back on players whose short time with a team came with the Hurricanes. In my last Forgotten Canes piece, we looked at Cory Stillman, but this time we are looking at another former Hurricane who took his knowledge behind the bench, that being Patrick Dwyer.
For fans who recently discovered the Carolina Hurricanes or Chicago Wolves, they will know Patrick Dwyer as an assistant coach for Wolves, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Hurricanes. Those that have been around, will remember him for his time on the forward line with the Hurricanes. While he spent some seasons going between the AHL and the NHL and finished his playing career overseas, he’s made a name for himself behind the bench of three teams.
Dwyer was born in 1983 in Spokane, Washington. A young Dwyer started playing with the Great Falls Americans of the America West Hockey League in Great Falls, Montana. In his best season, he scored 33 goals and 57 assists in 49 games for 90 points on the season. After that season, he went on to university, choosing Western Michigan University. His freshmen year at WMU was the best with 17 goals and 17 assists in 28 games. He was also named to the All-CCHA Rookie team and was named the CCHA Rookie of the Year for 2002.
Thanks to his stellar first year, Dwyer was drafted 116th overall in the 2002 Entry-Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers and became one of only 15 players ever drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers. He finished his time at WMU and started the 2004-05 season with the then ECHL affiliate of the Thrashers, the Gwinnett Gladiators. The next season Dwyer was promoted to the Chicago Wolves, who were Atlanta’s AHL affiliate at the time.
Going to the Big Leagues
Before the start of the 2006-07 season, the Carolina Hurricanes signed Dwyer as a free agent and he was assigned to now-defunct Albany River Rats in September of that year. He spent three seasons with the River Rats before finally getting the chance to crack the NHL with the Hurricanes. Over the course of the next two seasons, he split time between Albany and Raleigh.
It wasn’t until the 2010-11 season that Dwyer was able to stay on full-time with the Hurricanes. The next season saw Dwyer representing Team USA at the World Championships where he joined fellow Hurricane, Justin Faulk, in trying their luck at the championship. Even though the USA only placed seventh, it was a chance for Dwyer to dawn the red, white, and blue sweater for the first and only time in his career.
Dwyer was never a big goal-scorer and battled injuries during his tenure with the Hurricanes. His best season came in 2013-14 where he scored 8 goals and 14 assists in 75 games. Dwyer played one more season with the Hurricanes where he scored 5 goals and 7 assists in 71 games. That would become his final NHL Season.
Life After Raleigh
After his contract with the Hurricanes came to an end the team chose not to offer Dwyer an extension. Instead, he signed a professional try-out contract with the Phoenix Coyotes. A week later the Coyotes released him from their 2015 training camp. His hockey career wasn’t over yet, and like many before him, it would take him overseas.
A month after being released by the Coyotes, Dwyer signed with MODO Hockey of the Swedish Hockey League for the 2015-16 season. In his 33 games with MODO, he only had seven assists. The following season Dwyer tried out with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but like the year before, was released from training camp.
By this time, the Albany River Rats had relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina becoming the Charlotte Checkers, and they decided to give their old forward another chance. In the 2016-17 Checkers season, Dwyer played 58 games with the team, he netted 14 goals and 12 assists.
He returned to Europe the next year, spending the next two seasons with Sønderjysk of the Danish Hockey League and the Belfast Giants of the Elite Ice Hockey League respectively. It was while he was with the Belfast Giants that Dwyer made a new name for himself behind the bench. Little did he know, getting to spend a season as a player and coaching assistant would lead him on a new path.
Return to the Hurricanes Organization
On July 30, 2019, Dwyer was named the fourth coach in the Checkers’ AHL history. This time, he would take on a full-time coaching role within an organization he knew well. In his first-year coaching, the Checkers were sitting at 3rd in the Atlantic Division before COVID-19 cancelled the season. With the entire 2020-21 season cancelled, changes were made within the AHL. No longer would the Charlotte Checkers be the Hurricanes affiliate. This move sent the Charlotte coaches to the Chicago Wolves.
In November 2021, with the rise of COVID-19 cases throughout the NHL, many of the Hurricanes stars were put on COVID protocols. This move caused six Wolves to be called up and allowed fans to see exactly what Head Coach Ryan Warsofsky and Pat Dwyer have been doing in Chicago. What fans saw did not disappoint. Many are wanting to see Jalen Chatfield and Jack Drury keep their post in the NHL. Defensemen Chatfield has been strong on every line and Drury, son of former-Hartford Whaler Ted Drury, had two goals in the two games he had been called up for.
What helped Dwyer in his coaching career was getting into it soon after he retired from the game. Having memories of playing were still fresh in his mind and provided him with the ability to think like his players. It’s shown with the Wolves who have spent time in Raleigh and for Hurricanes fans, are excited to see what else Dwyer and company are building in Chicago.
Hurricanes All-Time Record
Games Played: 416
Goals: 42 G
Assists: 102 A
Points: 93 P
On her previous stint with The Hockey Writers, Casey covered the Tampa Bay Lightning, but she has returned to take on the Carolina Hurricanes. Even though she is Steel City born, a former season ticker member with the Lightning, and lives in Orlando, the Canes have always been her favourite team. She started her hockey career as Keeper of Time for the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcan Hockey Club while going to school for Sport Management. She hopes to one day work with Hockey Ministries International as a team chaplain. You can usually find her tweeting about hockey or posting pictures on Instagram.