Lang showing patience
By Greg Harder, The Leader-Post
November 18, 2010
Regina Pats general manager Chad Lang.
Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, The Leader-Post, The Leader-Post
General manager Chad Lang isn't ready to attach a fuse to the Regina Pats, but he does want to light a fire under the struggling WHL club.
Amidst suggestions that he completely demolish the existing blueprint and start the rebuilding process from scratch, Lang has continued to preach patience as his club falls closer to the bottom of the WHL standings.
"I honestly think that was a lot of the expectation with people when I did get the position, that the whole hockey operations side would be blown up, but I don't know if that's fair," offered Lang, who was hired in the off-season after long-time GM Brent Parker stepped aside to become team president.
"I think people forget that there has been some good years here. There's no question when the team struggles people get owly and people want a winner. There's nothing wrong with those expectations but we need to be realistic with where we are in the process with our hockey club. We've made a number of changes to bring in guys. I think it takes time and I don't think we can constantly make change after change just for the sake of saying we made change. I still believe you look at teams that have been successful in our league, it's continuity and consistency."
Since a change has already been made in the GM's position, head coach Curtis Hunt now finds himself in the line of fire due to the Pats' 6-13-2-1 record, tying them for 21st in the 22-team league. Asked if a mid-season coaching change is an option, Lang didn't dismiss it entirely but he was also quick to emphasize that the finger can't always be pointed solely at the coach.
"To say I'm contemplating that at this point, it's way too early," he said. "Right now, to me, more of my focus needs to be on the players, working with the players, making sure the players understand that they have a responsibility and need to be accountable for their actions. I still believe the players have to be the ones that execute and perform. When it's all said and done if we don't put them in situations to have that success ... then we have to start looking at the other aspects of the hockey operation."
Lang pointed out that the Pats' record -- and their position in the standings -- would be much different if they had won even a handful of the games they've let slip away this season. Regina has lost seven times this season when tied or leading in the final frame.
"If we win the games we were leading in the third period, there's no one in the city talking about change," noted Lang. "We played some real good teams and that's what good teams do, they find ways to win. We're a fragile group that needs to learn how to win and we're not there yet. But I think it's unrealistic to hit the panic button at this point. We found ways to lose so red flags are starting to wave and people are getting a little excited. But our team has been in games.
"If we were getting blown out each and every night and we weren't able to compete then I would probably have to shift my focus a little more to the coaching staff. If we're patient, we can get back on track, get some wins, then we're moving in the right direction. If we can't get our feet planted and start moving up, we all know it's junior hockey and changes usually happen."
In the meantime, Lang is placing the onus on his players to take it upon themselves to turn things around.
"I still want to see our team elevate our compete level," said the GM, whose club opens a five-game road swing on Friday against the Vancouver Giants. "There's no question we need to get wins on this trip. It's probably going to have an affect on exactly what I decide to do and which direction we go depending on the success of that trip.
"We need to work as a group and start trying to find ways to win rather than taking ourselves out of it," he added. "It can be difficult (to be patient) but we need to remain positive and keep moving forward. We find ourselves at the bottom looking up but I still believe if we can put a stretch of games with some wins together that we can get back into the race."
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