View Full Version : Finalists get Parker's Respect

05-07-2006, 08:18 AM
from reginapats.com

Finalists get Parker's Respect

Greg Harder, Leader-Post
Published: Saturday, May 06, 2006

If you're having trouble declaring an allegiance in the WHL's championship series, imagine how the Regina Pats feel.

From Regina's perspective, cheering for the Moose Jaw Warriors or Vancouver Giants is like a choice between kissing your sister or being escorted to the prom by your mother.

Pick your poison.

Moose Jaw is the Pats' most-hated rival while Vancouver is home to three players whom Regina discarded, including controversial goalie Dustin Slade.

Like it or not, Regina is eternally linked to the Giants' new poster boy, whose extraordinary playoff run -- including a league-record six shutouts -- was made possible by his much-publicized fallout with the Pats.

"In some ways, it's kind of rewarding," revealed GM Brent Parker, offering a new twist on the Slade saga. "What we did in terms of trying to make Dustin accountable for his actions and understand how his (lack of discipline) affected other people, I think it has made him a better player. Someone made a comment to me one time, 'You might be taking the hit for someone else to reap the reward.' I think that's what happened.

"Part of what our league is here for is to help develop these kids as people as well as athletes. I've said it before, I liked Dustin. I liked him a lot. He was a personable kid who has now matured a little bit and is having the success on the ice that we all thought he was capable of having. I'm happy for him."

It was a year ago this week that Parker traded the enigmatic goaltender to Vancouver for Matt Robinson and a pair of fifth-round bantam draft picks. The Pats used one of those selections to take forward prospect Kyle St. Denis. The other pick was dangled as bait so Regina could trade up in the second round to land local product Garrett Mitchell.

"It was a good trade for both teams," Parker said of the Slade deal. "Vancouver got a goaltender that has played extremely well for them. We got a guy who scored 36 goals for us and in addition we got two draft picks out of it. Both players benefitted from a change of scenery."

It could be argued that Regina has yet to benefit from trading Albers or Lamb.

Albers, the runner-up for the league's top-defenceman award this season, was dealt to Vancouver in November of 2004 for rearguard Andy Schenn and a pair of draft picks. Schenn was forced to retire last season due to repeated concussions.

Lamb scored 26 goals in Vancouver this season, but he wasn't good enough to play for the Pats, who traded him in January of 2004 for little-used defenceman Ryan Mayko. Parker said he had no choice but to trade Lamb, who was "basically run out of town" by former head coach Bob Lowes.

Although Slade, Albers and Lamb might all have looked good in a Pats' uniform this season, Parker insisted he was pleased to see them rejuvenate their careers in Vancouver.

Regina's GM expressed similar sentiments about watching the Warriors make their first trip to the WHL final -- and he said it with a straight face, too.

"It would have bothered me a lot more three or four years ago," Parker admitted. "But they have a real good group of people in place now with (head coach) Steve (Young) and (GM) Chad (Lang) and (president) Darin Chow. They have been through a lot down there with some average teams and a bad building. It's a long-time coming. I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish it was our organization, but I don't think you can get hung up on jealously or resentment. I'm happy for them."

Two years ago, Parker said much the same kinds of things after watching head coach Curtis Hunt guide Moose Jaw to the best season in franchise history. Now Hunt is working in Regina.

"A guy like Curtis should feel a little bit of a sense of achievement watching that team," the GM noted. "When all those kids came in, he was the one who tutored them and brought them along. That's not to take away from what Steve has done but certainly Curtis in the early years made an impact on those players."

Parker plans to get a first-hand look at the Warriors when the series switches to Moose Jaw for Game 3 on Monday. While joking that it might be the first time he has entered the Civic Centre without needing a bodyguard, Parker also stopped short of declaring himself a Warrior booster.

"I don't think I'm going to go there with my silver and black pom poms," he said with a laugh. "I'll go as a fan of the game, representing our league, and enjoy what should be a heck of a final."