Dave Struch became the second head-coaching casualty of this WHL season when the Regina Pats fired him on Thursday morning.
John Paddock, a veteran of the coaching game and twice the winner of the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s coach of the year, has taken over and now is the organization’s vice-president of hockey operations, general manager and head coach. Paddock ran the Pats’ practice in Regina on Thursday.
According to Pats’ owner/governor Shaun Semple, Paddock “will assume the role of head coach for the remainder of this season and next.”
Struch, 50, was in the final year of his contract. He had been with the Pats since 2014-15. He started as an assistant coach working alongside Paddock, then took over as head coach after the Pats were the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup.
Prior to joining the Pats, Struch spent eight seasons on the Saskatoon Blades’ coaching staff, the last one (2013-14) as head coach.
“Not much to say, as this is what I signed up for as a coach,” Struch told the Regina Leader-Post via text on Thursday afternoon. “I’m sad for my family. Disappointed that I couldn’t help the team get more wins. Expectations are high for this group of young men to be at the top of the conference and I couldn’t make that happen.”
Struch exits with the Pats at 6-10-0, their most-recent appearance a 6-1 loss to the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes that left them with three straight losses. The Pats’ season has been streaky — two victories, seven losses, four victories, three losses.
Assistant coaches Brad Herauf, who is in his seventh season, and Ken Schneider, in his first, were retained.
“I’m positive that with John, Brad and Ken, they will get (the Pats) back to the top where they should be this season,” Struch told The Leader-Post. “I am grateful to the organization for everything they have done for my family and I over the last seven years.”
Paddock, 67, makes his first appearance back behind the bench on Saturday as the Pats begin a six-game road trip against the Moose Jaw Warriors.
He has extensive head-coaching experience that includes stints in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators. He was the WHL’s coach of the year following the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons.
Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post has his thoughts on the Pats’ situation right here.
The other coach to depart since this season got started? Dean Brockman left the Swift Current Broncos on Oct. 14.
With the Regina Pats having stumbled through the first part of the WHL’s regular season, there are those who are wondering about the first 16 games of F Connor Bedard’s season.
Bedard, the first player to have been granted exceptional status allowing him to play in the WHL as a 15-year-old, put up 12 goals and 16 assists in 15 games in the developmental season that was played in the Regina hub last spring.
This season, Bedard, now 16, has eight goals and four assists in 16 games.
However, as Ken Campbell wrote Thursday at Hockey Unfiltered, better numbers are likely to be in Bedard’s immediate future.
“The temptation might be to wonder what is going on with Connor Bedard these days,” Campbell wrote. “There also might be a temptation to think that the WHL’s first exceptional player and top prospect for the 2023 NHL draft is lagging behind his competition, namely Adam Fantilli and Matvei Michkov.
“Yes, Bedard has only eight goals and 12 points in 16 games for the Regina Pats after scoring 28 points in just 15 games last season and leading Canada to a gold medal at the World Under-18 Championship. And he has yet to score a single goal on the power play. But there are a couple of mitigating circumstances at play. First, Bedard leads the Western Hockey League in shots with 85, which means he’s been the victim of some terribly bad luck. People in analytics tell us all the time that, particularly with elite players who generate a lot of chances, that luck is bound to change and his shooting percentage will get way above 9.4 percent. Last season, it was 17.4 percent.”
Campbell’s complete piece, which includes notes on a lot more than just Bedard, is right here.
If you are one of those people who puts stock in power polls or rankings or whatever they might be called, consider this from Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press . . .
“ESPN calls itself the worldwide leader in sports, but it’s more like the worldwide leader in hot takes (and arguably clickbait) following Wednesday’s release of their weekly NHL ‘power rankings.’
“In case you missed it, the new U.S. rightsholder for league telecasts has seen fit to demote the Winnipeg Jets down to 20th, a drop of eight spots from the No. 12 position they occupied last Wednesday.
“This, despite the fact the Jets just went a perfect 3-0-0 over the past seven days, including a dominating 5-2 win over Edmonton on Tuesday night. That would be the same Oilers team ESPN has ranked No. 1. Seriously. “You couldn’t make this up.
“Winnipeg has just one regulation loss in the last dozen games (9-1-2), and if it keeps up this impressive pace I suspect the Jets are going to drop all the way to dead-last in the rankings rather quickly.”
BTW, the Jets dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the host Oilers on Thursday night. Yes, Edmonton F Connor McDavid scored another one of “THOSE” goals.
The schedule has been released for the 2022 Memorial Cup and it comes with a real change. The tournament, which is to be held in Saint John, N.B., from June 4 through June 13, will begin on a Saturday night, rather than Friday, and the championship final is scheduled for Monday night, rather than Sunday. . . . All games will begin at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET) with one exception — the game on June 5 between the QMJHL and WHL champions is to start at 1 p.m. PT (4 p.m. ET). . . . There is a news release right here, and it includes ticket-buying information.
Some crazy stuff has been going down with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. Let’s start with some Thursday tweets from Brad Elliott Schlossman, the Grand Forks Herald’s superb hockey writer . . .
On Wednesday, he had tweeted:
“Four months after Omaha (USHL) hired Chadd Cassidy as head coach and GM, and after an 8-4-2 start to this season, the Lancers have pushed him out, per multiple sources.”
These followed on Thursday (all times Pacific):
10:53 a.m.: Situation in Omaha escalating: Lancers have been cutting budgets, everything from video software to some postgame player meals; after ousting Cassidy, Omaha asked him to coach last weekend’s games (per @THNRyanKennedy); Omaha discussed having an injured player be asst coach.”
10:57 a.m.: “Remaining Omaha Lancers staff members are currently resigning. I’m not sure if there will be anyone left when this is done. Players are threatening to boycott upcoming games.”
11:11 a.m.: “Assistant general manager Jeff Cox, acting head coach Sean Walsh, assistant coach Tate Maris and trainer Nick Hart have all resigned from the Omaha Lancers.”
11:49 a.m.: “The remaining Lancers staff was willing to stay for the sake of the players. Then, this morning, team president David DeLuca lost his temper with acting HC Sean Walsh. Assistant coach Tate Maris resigned. Players opted to walk out. Remaining staff backed players and resigned.”
12:30 p.m.: “The Lancers say Chadd Cassidy ‘stepped down as head coach to pursue other opportunities.’ . . . Yeah, and I bench pressed 500 pounds this morning.”
Schlossman later filed this story right here.
On the subject of crazy stuff, it’s hard to believe that it has been 27 years since one of the highlights of my time around the WHL. Yessss, those were the days! . . . Regina versus Moose Jaw was so much fun. Play-by-play guys in Donald Duck outfits. Coaches battling. . . . Kevin Shaw, the Regina Pats’ unofficial historian, reminds us of what happened 27 years ago with this tweet . . .
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