Buzzing The Net

Regina Pats remain only WHL team without a head coach

Kelly Friesen
Buzzing The Net

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Regina Pats are the only WHL team without a head coach. (Pats)

Exactly a month to the day after firing head coach Malcolm Cameron, the Regina Pats are still on the hunt to find his successor.

It was easy for the Pats to fly under the radar at first because there were a handful of other teams that were also without a coach. But with the Moose Jaw Warriors hiring Tim Hunter and the Vancouver Giants hiring Troy Ward last week, the Queen City Kids are now the only club in the league without a bench boss.

There have been reports circulating that the Pats have made offers to two coaches, but were turned down by both.

The Leader-Post dug deeper into the reports. Pats general manager Chad Lang affirmed he pursued two coaches when he sat down with Greg Harder, but he claimed it wasn’t a fit for “both sides.”

It's open to interpretation whether the Pats' advances were spurned or if the sides simply couldn't find enough common ground.

"We've had probably two guys that we've had lengthy conversations with and we've thrown some different terms back and forth, but it just wasn't a fit for both sides," said Lang. "As far as saying this is a drop-dead offer, no. Any time you go through this process you make sure there's a sense of comfort on both ends and then you start having dialogue about everything from where the team is, the philosophy of the team, terms (of the contract), compensation, all those things. When you go through the process, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't."

Regardless of whether the two coaches turned down the offers or not, there are red flags that may make possible candidates leery about moving to the Queen City.

The Pats have a history of going through bench bosses quickly. They have had four coaches – Dale Derkatch, Curtis Hunt, Pat Conacher and Cameron – in the last six seasons. Derkatch and Cameron were fired after just one season while Hunt was canned after two. Conacher is the only coach who willingly left as he stepped down after two seasons.

Lang did fire Hunt and Cameron and was the GM when Conacher stepped down. But it seems the old ownership group – the Parkers – and the new ownership group – Queen City Sports and Entertainment Group – played major roles in the coaching changes. It’s believed Conacher left the Pats because he had a difference of opinion with the Parkers. The recent change of ownership in April, meanwhile, has its fingerprints all over the Cameron firing.

Moreover, no one exactly knows how the new ownership group will do business. They showed by firing Cameron, who recently accepted a coaching position with the Okanagan Hockey Academy, that they are not afraid to make bold moves. It would have been a much safer move on their part to play out Cameron’s last year of his contract after he led the rebuilding team to an East Division title in 2013-14.

Yorkton Terriers head coach Trent Cassan was interviewed for the position, but it’s clear now that he wasn’t their first or second choice. Time will tell whether the RBC Cup-winning coach is Regina's third choice.

Once the Pats find their man, they’ll be the 10th WHL team to hire a new head coach this year. The nine other teams are as follows: Moose Jaw Warriors (Tim Hunter), Saskatoon Blades (Bob Woods), Calgary Hitmen (Mark French), Edmonton Oil Kings (Steve Hamilton), Kamloops Blazers (Don Hay), Kelowna Rockets (Dan Lambert), Vancouver Giants (Troy Ward), Tri-City Americans (Mike Williamson) and Portland Winterhawks (Jamie Kompon).

Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen

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