During his youth, Colin Patterson was not a single-minded lad with hockey as his sole obsession. To the contrary, he was more noteworthy on his school grounds playing lacrosse. He eventually developed into a world-class player, representing Canada at the world championships in Baltimore where he won a bronze medal.
But a rink in the backyard was still very much an important part of Patterson's development. He enjoyed playing hockey, but he was never starry-eyed about the experience. In his later teens, he attended Clarkson College where he played hockey on the side while working on his degree in marketing and management. His course, however, was turned towards the NHL when the Calgary Flames sent a scout to look at a fellow teammate, Jim Laing. When the scout made his report to the Flames, he was at least as enamoured with Patterson as he was with his original quarry. So, Patterson completed his degree and then signed as a free agent with the Flames in 1983.
Over the next ten years, he established himself as a defensive specialist, skating, for the most part, alongside Doug Risebrough and Richard Kromm. Patterson rarely strayed from his defensive role, one he fell into with ease, having learned the skill during his days as a lacrosse player.
His greatest career moment came when the Flames won the Stanley Cup on Montreal Forum ice in 1989. He lasted one more season with the club before injuries sidelined him for the entire 1990-91 campaign. His career revival brought him to the Buffalo Sabres where he toiled through two additional seasons, retiring in 1993.