View Full Version : Parker deserves a pat on the back

03-24-2006, 12:57 PM
from reginapats.com via LeaderPost
Parker deserves a pat on the back

Rob Vanstone, The Leader-Post
Published: Friday, March 24, 2006

People are quick to vilify Regina Pats general manager Brent Parker in times of turbulence.

However, the pendulum does not swing the other way.

Parker has played an integral role in the resuscitation of the Pats during the 2005-06 WHL season. After registering 12 victories last winter, Regina rebounded with a 40-win season.

So where are the accolades?

Do you ever hear anyone raving about Parker's contributions to the Pats' vastly improved on-ice product?

Let's be fair. If you are going to slam the man when the Pats are putrid, you must also make a point of acknowledging the positive steps he has taken. A 40-win season does not happen by accident.

Look at what Parker has done since the welcome expiration of the 2004-05 campaign. Every key move Parker has made has upgraded the team.

Parker absorbed considerable heat for trading the 2004-05 Pats' best (only?) pure goal scorer, Jonathan Bubnick, to the Portland Winter Hawks last summer. In return, the Pats received centre Garrett Festerling and a third-round pick in the 2006 bantam draft.

Guess what? Festerling has been one of the Pats' best players in 2005-06. He ended up producing as many points (58) as Bubnick in 2005-06 while emerging as one of the Pats' key leaders. Leadership, or lack thereof, was one reason why the Pats floundered so badly in 2004-05.

Another offseason trade worked out wonderfully for Parker.

The Pats' GM did not appear to have much leverage while attempting to trade goaltender Dustin Slade, whom the Pats had sent home during the 2004-05 season. Parker had resisted the temptation to unload Slade for what the Pats deemed to be insufficient compensation as the Jan. 10, 2005 trade deadline loomed.

Instead, the Pats exercised patience and eventually dispatched Slade to the Vancouver Giants for 20-year-old forward Matt Robinson.

Both players have prospered in new environs. On Tuesday, Slade was named the Western Conference's goaltender-of-the-year. Robinson's 35 goals placed him second on the Pats, one behind Petr Kalus.

Ah yes, Petr Kalus.

Last year in this space, the Pats' alarming tendency to select substandard Europeans (see: Ivo Kratena, Kamil Vavra, Petr Dvorak, Jan Zapletal) was ridiculed.

"Recent import drafts have been nose-pluggers,'' I wrote. "The time has arrived for the Pats to stop picking names at random from the Prague telephone directory.''

Parker opted for a change of venue. Last summer, he selected Kalus from Ostrava in the Czech Republic. Kalus has been magnificent, scoring a team-high 36 goals in 60 games and generating excitement every time he touches the puck.

The Pats' boss filled the other import spot with winger Denis Tolpeko, who was obtained from the Seattle Thunderbirds for the low, low price of a sixth-round bantam-draft choice. Tolpeko, 20, has attracted NHL interest since blossoming with the Pats.

Parker's earlier transactions have also proven to be astute.

In the spring of 2004, Parker wisely wooed Curtis Hunt away from the Moose Jaw Warriors. Hunt is merely one of the WHL's elite coaches. He deserves all the credit he receives. But somebody had to hire him . . . remember?

Last season, Parker also obtained David Reekie from the Kamloops Blazers in a deal which did not create much fanfare at the time.

Reekie has supplied the Pats with solid goaltending this season. He was recently named the WHL's player-of-the-week during a period in which he backstopped Regina to six consecutive road victories.

The Pats hope the hot goaltending will continue during a first-round playoff series against the Saskatoon Blades. Game 1 is set for tonight in Saskatoon.

People have been quick to attribute the Pats' surprising resurgence to the players and coaches, all of whom are deserving of kudos.

But some of the credit should go right to the top.

Obviously, Brent Parker is doing something right.