Monday, August 17, 2009

Pats are putting last year behind them

LeaderPost article by Rob Vanstone

Regina Pats putting last year behind and moving on

By Rob Vanstone, Leader-Post August 17, 2009

REGINA — Last year was a lost year for the Regina Pats.

After an encouraging start, the 2008-09 Pats hit a tailspin and missed the WHL playoffs. The team is looking to turn the page this time around.

"Today is the start of putting last year behind us,'' Pats general manager Brent Parker said Monday at the Brandt Centre before the team headed to a retreat at an undisclosed location.

"We're all anxious to lose the memory of last year and we're all anxious to get going towards this year, yet I think we have to remember the areas where we went south last year that we need to correct and make sure we're going forward this year. I think it's important for all the kids, both young and old, to get to know each other and to work with each other. Hopefully it will springboard us into a good start.''

The Pats had considerably higher expectations than a 27-39-1-5 record last season. After the 2008-09 campaign was assessed, Parker opted to fire head coach Dale Derkatch after one season. Derkatch was soon replaced by Curtis Hunt, who had coached the Pats from 2004 to 2008 before spending one year in the Ottawa Senators organization.

Hunt emphasizes the need for a fresh start, as do the players.

"Obviously, there's a lot of bad things that went on last year,'' Pats right-winger Jordan Eberle said. "We weren't near where we wanted to be. It's a good learning process. I know a lot of us had time to think it over this summer and it's a good thing to learn off of. You don't just want to put it aside. You want to learn from it. I think that's the major reason why we're doing the retreat — to try and get some more team bonding.''

Eberle and defenceman Colten Teubert were away from the team at mid-season while playing for Canada at the world junior hockey championship. Eberle and Teubert were widely expected to help reverse the Pats' fortunes when they returned with gold medals, but the slide continued.

"For me, it was a tough grind,'' Eberle said. "We came back from world juniors and it seemed like we couldn't win a game. It was such an up-and-down season.

"The biggest thing that a lot of guys talk about is we need to become more of a team and (have) team bonding. I think we had a lot of individuals and stuff like that. We're taking the initiative right here, right now, and going to do this little retreat.''

Although Eberle and Teubert are on board at the outset, it remains to be seen whether either or both will be around at the end of the season. Both players were selected in the first round of the 2008 NHL entry draft and are hoping to ascend to the big leagues as 19-year-olds. Eberle will soon depart for the Edmonton Oilers' training camp. Teubert is property of the Los Angeles Kings.

"We fully anticipate they'll be back,'' Parker said. "If they're not, they're not. We talk about team. We're not putting one guy above the rest. Is Jordan Eberle an important part of our team? Sure, but 'part' is the key word. If he's not here, then we expect someone else to slip into that role and run with it. Will someone else bring a different set of skills? Sure.

"One person isn't going to make or break our year. If we're that fragile that one person does, then we need to continue to work on the things that will get us out of that rut. We need to be a team. We need to look after each other. We need to look out for one another. We need to do things right all the time, not just some of the time.''
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