Friday, August 28, 2009

Hunt article from the Leader-Post

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Head coach Curtis Hunt looks forward to seeing Regina Pats face the competition

By Greg Harder, Leader-PostAugust 28, 2009

LUMSDEN — Curtis Hunt won’t be admiring the view in his first game back behind the bench of the Regina Pats.

Hunt has bigger concerns as the WHL club opens the pre-season this weekend at a tournament in Edmonton with games against the host Oil Kings (Friday), Medicine Hat Tigers (Saturday) and Swift Current Broncos (Sunday).

“I’m excited to see us against the competition moreso than anything,” said Hunt, who’s back in Regina after a year in the Ottawa Senators’ organization. “You have days where you feel great about your group and you have days where you’re wondering about your group. Getting a chance to see other opponents, getting away from pounding each other, that’s what I’m probably most excited about. I think our guys have competed very hard (in camp), but I saw some fatigue in the Blue-White game. Usually when the legs go, the brain follows. We’re working on that mental toughness side of the game every day.”

Although the Pats haven’t had much time to work on systems, Hunt is curious to see which players show a high hockey IQ and pick up on things quickly. He also wants to continue evaluating personnel and experiment with some line combinations while also working towards some tough decisions at every position, especially between the pipes.

Even more important than any of that, Hunt is adamant that each player adopts the prescribed work ethic — describing it as a “relentless doggedness.”

“I heard a great quote from (Canadian Olympic coach) Mike Babcock about what he’s looking for from his players; he wants 200-feet players,” said the Pats’ bench boss. “That’s what we’re looking for. Guys who are committed at all costs to getting back, never giving up on anything in the D zone, never giving up on anything in the offensive zone. That’s the starting point. Without work ethic and the right attitude every day, I don’t care what you do, you’re dead.”

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When the Pats wrapped up training camp on Thursday, they also said good-bye to the town of Lumsden — perhaps for the last time.

While expressing delight with the hospitality they've received over the years in Lumsden, the Pats would love to hold next year’s training camp at home — either in the Brandt Centre or the adjacent Co-operators Centre, a new six-rink multi-plex which is slated to be fully operational in the New Year.

“It makes good sense for both parties,” said GM Brent Parker. “We wouldn’t have to travel and Evraz Place wouldn’t have the additional expenses of having to pay for our ice and our training camp outside the building.”

Evraz Place officials recently gave Parker a guided tour of the new facilities along with Pats owner Russ Parker and WHL commissioner Ron Robison. Although there’s still a potential scheduling conflict with the annual Royal Red horse show, Parker is hoping something can be arranged.

“It’s certainly an impressive building that is going to really impact the hockey community in the city and would be a great facility for us to have training camp,” said Parker. “We’ve talked a little bit about maybe having a pre-season tournament and things we can do there together to generate some revenue for both parties. That’s our goal. We’re going to do everything we can to find a way to make that work.”

EXTRAS: All 35 players made the trip to Edmonton, including D Matt Delahey (New Jersey), D Colten Teubert (L.A.), RW Garrett Mitchell (Washington) and RW Jordan Eberle (Edmonton). They don't leave for NHL camps until next weekend. RW Brett Leffler and G Linden Rowat are not slated to attend NHL camps.

gharder@leaderpost.canwest.com
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