Kansas City may lack a National Hockey League team, but passion for the sport can be found in the Royals clubhouse.
Right-handed pitcher Chris Young married into an eminent hockey family. His wife, Elizabeth Young, is the great-granddaughter of Hockey Hall of Famer Lester Patrick.
And Royals physical therapist Jeff Blum, who grew up in Illinois, is a big Chicago Blackhawks fan.
Young, 37, said he met Elizabeth during their freshman year of college at Princeton and the pair began dating senior year. She played on the school’s soccer team while he was a multisport athlete representing the Tigers in baseball and basketball.
Young, from Dallas, said he wasn’t initially aware of Elizabeth’s standout athletic genes, especially since it was in a sport with which he was unfamiliar.
“I found out after I got to know her … not when I met her,” he said. “Coming from Texas, I didn’t know a whole lot of hockey at the time, but she grew up in a hockey family and a huge hockey fan.”
A trophy, named after her great-grandfather, is given to those who render outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
Her father, Dick Patrick, is the president of the Washington Capitals. Young said they have a “mutual respect” for each other and he appreciates what his father-in-law does in the National Hockey League.
“I’ve grown to be a huge Washington Capitals fan because of her dad,” Young said. “I think that they’ve grown to be baseball fans, too. I think that we both enjoy maybe watching the other sport more than we do our own at times.”
Young said family gatherings always entail discussing the two sports.
“I like to talk more hockey,” Young said. “He likes to talk more baseball, so we kind of cover both. My wife always laughs that her dad loves talking baseball with me and likewise I feel like I’m in the office talking hockey with him.
“I think he feels the same talking baseball with me, so it’s just a mutual appreciation and it makes for fun family dinners.”
Young isn’t the only member of the Royals who is an avid hockey fan. Blum, who is starting his 10th season with the Royals, said he enjoys talking hockey with Young.
“It’s just fun,” he said. “We joke back and forth. He’s a big Caps fan, so it makes it better because we’re not actually on the same side. We could meet for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”
Coming from Illinois, he said, “it was all Blackhawks and they were always good, plus growing up as a kid I was a Cubs fan so there’s always that rivalry between St. Louis. And so obviously if you didn’t like the Cardinals you didn’t like the Blues.”
Blum said hockey has strengthened the bond among those in the Royals clubhouse.
“It’s just something to talk about and have a connection with,” he said. “(It) just kind of helps open each other up and just have more of that family bond that we look for here at this organization.”
Shelby Hyde is reporter for Cronkite News at Arizona State University.