Monday, March 31, 2008

Post mortem on the Pats season

Okay, sorry it took me a couple of days to get to this. Been a little busy with real life, not going ballistic over the exploits of a collection of teenage boys. Man, some of those who've been posting on Rod Pedersen's blog are disturbed individuals. Also, I'm not a big fan of the knee-jerk, "sky is falling" assessments. But here's what I think is largely behind another disappointing early exit from the playoffs for the Regina Pats.

1) Personnel. Simply put, not enough offense. How many players on this year's edition of the Pats had career years..........LAST YEAR? J.D. Watt (34 goals last year/13 this year), Tim Kraus (19/15), Ryan DePape (25/10) and Michael MacAngus (24/18) spring immediately to mind. Add to that some porous defense and erratic goaltending, and it's safe to say the players didn't live up to expectations.

2) Coaching. I honestly believe Curtis Hunt is a top-notch coach. He can only put the players in a position to succeed. The skaters have to follow through on their end of the bargain. Hunt didn't give up any weak goals or shorthanded markers in the playoffs.

3) Heart. Simply put, there wasn't enough of it on this year's squad. Nothing against Logan Pyett specifically, but I yearn for the days when Barret Jackman wore the "C" for the Pats. There was a guy who was not afraid to make teammates accountable, including pinning them against the dressing room wall if need be. Hell, he was doing that sort of thing in his rookie year! I suspect Colten Teubert could be the same sort of leader. We'll find out.

4) Culture. This is the biggie from my perspective. Remember in the mid to late 90's when a stream of players chose not to play here? The franchise hadn't won a lot and the previous ownership was not exactly free-spending in it's approach to creating a professional environment.

Give Pats G.M. Brent Parker some credit. He recognized what needed to be done, and invested a lot of time (and money) into improved training facilities, top-notch equipment, and generally transforming the Pats into a professionally-run organization. And the result? Players now want to come here, seeing Regina as a desirable destination.

But, here's the rub. Are they the right kind of players? I suspect many of the kids we've seen in Pats uniforms in recent years were all too happy to partake of the amenities, the free clothing, stopovers in Banff, etc. But, when push came to shove, how many of those players would be willing to give everything they had to the organization in return? Answer - simply not enough of them.

By trying to make this a more desirable destination, the Pats have been taken advantage of by the "me first" generation of hockey players. The kind that want the team to provide top-of-the-line equipment, while they're still playing midget hockey! That culture of entitlement needs to end.

Clearly, not enough players have responded to being taken care of. It's time for a return to the "either you bust your butt for this team, or there's the door" type of approach. And if the little darlings don't like the change, then I strongly suggest they're not the type of players you want around when the going gets tough anyway. Frankly, it's a privilege to play junior hockey for this franchise. Let's leave the rewards for after the work is done.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some interesting thoughts Pete. Agreed that had a few guys given more, we would have won the series in 5 or 6 games. The main thing to come out of that is to make sure that those individuals don't wear a Pats sweater next year. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

Parker has lots of 20 yr olds (to be)to trade this fall. Bartley and Doucet appear to be shoe-ins. Doucet proved he could be an excellent 1st line center with Eberle. A more gifted left winger is needed for that line. Bartley is a puck moving workhorse.

Rowat, Bosch, Ketlo and Tendler are all on stream. I think two gotta go. I think Bosch could have and would have given us everything that Rowat did this year. Two of that group should fetch a hefty price.

Some of the glut of 20 yr olds should bring back quite a bit. MacAngus, Hill, Elder, DePape are among that group.

As I said, I think Bartley and Doucet are shoe-ins, I think you have to keep a 20 yr old spot open for a possible high end goal scorer. Pyett could return but I don't think a 5th year in the Dub will help him at all. It didn't for Watt or Kraus. If he is returned to junior I think a change of scenery would be better option for him. An all-star D-man should bring a top forward. An all-star goalie should bring another. In all the Pats have some top notch trade bait this year that should bring some high end talented forwards here. We need some goal scorers badly.

Regardless if its by trade or draft, the Pats need to increase their speed and skill level. Future drafts and all player trades must have that component included in the mix. Big guys are still needed but they have to skate well. We should have learned from the Tigers last year.

There is more than enough blame to go around the team and it's beginning to look like everyone has received a free pass. I talked to couple of fans today and the feedback was they were pissed off but are now becoming desensitized. Like this is always going to be the standard, one round and out. One guy said it was like a bad relationship you can't get out of unless you go see the judge, and the judge is her Dad. You can't win. You have read and heard the venom. If we are back at this same spot next year I can only imagine how nasty it will be. This team from the top down has much to prove to its fan base. In the early to mid 80's we were filling the Done and by the late 80's early 90's, they only about 1000 season tickets. No sports team should ever take fan base loyalty for granted. It evaporates like water if fans one day say they have had enough. The Pats better not lose what they have here. The best remedy is to win something significant, soon!

Old Fan