Saturday, April 4, 2009

Parkers Aren't Giving Up So You Shouldn't Either

When discussing the fortunes of the Regina Pats in the Parker era, it would seem as if no one is sitting on the fence. There are those that will tell you Russ Parker in his 14 years as owner with the help of his son Brent have restored the Pats image from a time in the mid 80’s and early 90’s when tumbleweeds could blow through the Dome and no one would notice. There are also many people who will tell you the 14 years haven’t brought any championship chase of meaning. Over the past couple of years, rumours have circulated and been revived many times that the Parkers will sell the hockey team to a group of Pats alumni led by Mike Sillinger and Jamie Heward. If that indeed does happen, I don’t think it will be for a while.

The Leader-Post’s Greg Harder has written a story after speaking with Russ. Like many others in the organization, the owner is not happy with the fact the WHL playoffs did not include his team for the 3rd time in the 14 years he has served as owner. He is asking Pats fans to be patient. On one hand, I ask how much longer can the Regina hockey fan who has supported this team winter after winter with great crowds do that. A team that is capable of being in at least the WHL’s final four is something that is long overdue. On the other hand, it tells me Russ is not getting ready to put the “for sale” sign up and he is ready to do something to get this team to a spot where everyone in the Regina hockey community can be left smiling.

That means many questions.
1) Is it time for Brent to give up his GM duties and bring in someone who perhaps is a “name” GM? I say no. Brent is very passionate about his hockey team and while every deal has not worked out, it has not been for a lack of trying. Brent and his scouting staff have brought some great players through this organization over the last 14 years. Players that have gone to NHL careers like Derek Morris, Barrett Jackman, Rick Rypien, Josh Harding etc. etc and players who will play in the NHL like Jordan Eberle, Colton Teubert and Jordan Weal. This team doesn’t have a problem in getting guys ready for the NHL.
2) Is a coaching change needed? I had a conversation with someone this week who asked me if I would replace Dale Derkatch and I said no. That person then asked if I would replace Derkatch if Curtis Hunt were to become available. I still said no. That ship has sailed. Curtis was a great coach and led the Pats to a division title. Derkatch’s biggest problem last year may have been becoming coach so late which is no fault of his own or the organization. Curtis wasn’t going to turn down an NHL opportunity just because it was getting late in the off-season. What’s to say Curtis does come back and gets another NHL opportunity…then you are in the same boat. Others questioned why Marc Habscheid didn’t get the job last year and I admit I was one that would have liked to seen Habscheid behind the bench because of his track record. He didn’t come and Derkatch took over. He will admit he wasn’t a perfect coach and he has said he will be a different coach when he comes back next year. Those returning might be in for a shock when they walk back in the dressing room if Dale does come back and I endorse his return. If he is replaced, I will feel sorry for him because I don’t know if he’ll have been given a proper chance to succeed.

3) Is a major overhaul of the roster needed? Yes!!! There are some guys on that team who are eligible to return who frankly can’t even come back to training camp. Someway, somehow, some of the players on this team have seemingly forgotten what it takes to be a junior hockey player in the best developmental league in the world. I don’t know if they think they have a country club atmosphere in there because of everything they are given but its time to realize that being in the WHL is a privilege and so is playing for the Pats. There are many who would love to trade spots with some of the guys in that lineup now. This must be an off-season where some new blood is brought in. Positive blood. Players are needed who realize what needs to be done if they are to achieve the level of professional hockey…something they have dreamed of since lacing up the skates. There are guys in that room now who I think are content with playing University or senior league hockey.

A lot of next year will depend on what the Oilers and Kings do with Eberle and Teubert. If they are back, then this team can flourish in what I think will be a very good Eastern Division next year with Saskatoon, Brandon and Swift Current all bringing back what should be strong teams. With the Wheat Kings being the host for the Mem Cup, you know an already strong team with guys like Schenn, Calvert, Glennie and Aulie will be stronger. It will be a battle for this team to win the Eastern Division next year. To do it, they will have to be on the same page right from the opening puck-drop of the season. It won’t be easy but I have confidence that in the end Brent and his staff will bring Regina hockey fans what they so desperately crave. I’m in full support of what Russ and Brent have done. As I said, every move hasn’t been met with extreme glee but they are trying and one can’t deny that. I understand the frustration of the Regina hockey community but I hope they don’t give up. I’m not!


Anonymous said...


You, The Parkers, and Daryl Katz must be drinking the same Kool Aid when it comes to coaches.


Anonymous said...

Give Dale a chance. From what I hear he never got on the same page as some of his "vets" who were stuck on Curtis' philosophies. That attitude did trickle down to some of the rookies. If the team can get rid of these guys or smarten them up and make a couple of shrewd trades they should be able to compete nightly again. I do agree with you when you say Brandon will be very strong next year. McCrimmon isn't going to piss this chance away unlike Brent in 2001 when the Mem Cup was here and he had to rebuild a team mid-season which resulted in the cupboard basically being left bare a few years later.


Anonymous said...

The Parkers have had 14 freakin' years to make some noise in the playoffs...they haven't done that once...why should people sit back and give them a couple more years to make a run? Roy Shivers had 7 years and didn't get over the hump and was rightfully canned...the same should happen to Parker, but we know that won't happen because his daddy is the boss and won't take away his favorite toy. Brent has proved he's not anything close to being a hockey guy...enough is enough.

Jason Burns said...

I like the Parkers and I do believe that the Pats to a good job of developing NHL players. But after being a season ticket holder for the past twelve years I believe that the Pats have trouble developing those second to fouth line depth and character guys. Every team in the league can boast of the players they put in the NHL but I think that the real good teams develop that strong core of "no name players". And lets not forget that for every Derek Morris or Rick Rypien there is also a Brett Bartel, Ryan Niezner or Travis Churchman. You know that players that we are led to believe are sure fire, can't miss prospects and they end up never contributing. The Pats also have a bad habit of giving up on there prospects too early and then bringin in older, former first round bantam picks like Neil Prokop or Mitch Czibere and they never pan out. I also get sick of the rebuilding excuse. Why do Vancouver, Medicine Hat or Kootney never go through "the cycle"? And as far as european draft picks? Pull the plug and save some money on flights. These guys would be fourth liners in the Highway League.