Parker addresses his critics
By GREG HARDER, Leader-Post
March 15, 2010
Brent Parker now knows what it's like to stand in front of a firing squad.
A growing segment of the Regina Pats' fan base is lining up to take potshots at the embattled general manager, whose club has fallen woefully short of expectations while missing the WHL playoffs for the second straight year. Even though Parker isn't impervious to his detractors, he does understand why he's a target.
"I'd be lying if I said it hasn't been unpleasant, but it's part of the business that you're in the line of fire," Parker said with a shrug. "Your profession is played out in front of the masses and the media. That's what we do. You can't be critical of it. I don't agree with all of the assessments but that goes with the territory of being in this livelihood. You have to have a thick skin. There does come a time when some of the messages and things that you get cross the line. Those are hard to take sometimes but, as I've said many times, people have their opinions of me as a person and they're entitled to that. I certainly respect our fans' opinions and their loyalty and their disappointment."
If there's an area in which Parker and the ticket-buying public apparently agree, it's a desire to right the ship.
"The only thing I would say to our fans is, nobody cares any more about this franchise having success than I do," he said. "There are people that think I'm above it or that I'm just riding it out because it's the family business. Nobody cares more. I'm an emotional person who wears his heart on his sleeve. Some of the things I say and do that have rubbed people the wrong way over time, more times than not are done and said out of my passion for this franchise. I don't ever apologize for that. I care deeply for this franchise to have success. That's something that weighs on me very heavily. I want very badly to see our kids succeed and grow and be better when they leave here. That's what drives me. Whatever decisions end up happening out of all this, that's never going to change."
Parker's critics are quick to point out that he has had 15 years to bring a championship to the city. Now, in the midst of cries to step aside, Parker insists he must go through the normal year-end evaluation process before making final determinations on change of any kind.
Parker also emphasized that he'll make a decision based upon what's best for the franchise. If he determines that what's best is for him to step down, "then that's what would happen."
Has that time come?
"I can't answer that yet," said Parker, who underwent successful treatment for cancer nearly two years ago and has been taking a year-to-year approach to his position with the club.
"If I've got in my head that I'm (walking away) and I've given up the cause, I would be cheating people right now if I didn't do what I need to do here first. It wouldn't be right. You couldn't throw another GM in here next week and have him properly prepared to hit the bantam draft and everything that's coming. If people are waiting for (today) to hit and I walk away, even if that's what I were thinking, it can't happen that way. I need to do what needs to be done around here and prepare accordingly and there will be a time (during that process) when you have the opportunity to evaluate and assess. That'll happen at the right time.
"It sounds corny but anybody who's in a position where they're looking at changing their life in whatever respect, whether it's getting married or getting divorced or making a life-changing decision of some kind, you get to the point where you just know. You just know that was the right decision and you make it. Whenever the decision is made, whatever that decision is, I'll make it and I will live with it and move on to the next phase, whether that's next year's preparations here or another phase of my life."
Since the Parker family bought the team in 1995, the Pats have posted a record of 499-471-110, missing the playoffs four times and making it as far as the second round on three occasions. Along the way, they have established single-season franchise records for season tickets and attendance while also building a significant profile in the community through charity work and other initiatives.
However, the absence of a championship -- or even a long playoff run -- has spawned a level of bitterness within the fan base that threatens to erode some of the accomplishments.
"I would like to think people would keep it in mind the fact that we have done a lot of good things," added Parker. "We want to win as much as anybody. We have to work hard to get our fans' trust back. It's not going to come overnight. We understand that."
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