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Leader-Post article (Pats prospects go camping at annual camp)

June 3 2012 at 7:39 AM
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N. W. Bruin  (Login NW_Bruin_GM)

Pats prospects go camping at annual camp

By Greg Harder, Leader-Post

June 2, 2012

The Regina Pats' future has arrived.

A group of 20-plus youngsters was in Regina on Friday to participate in the WHL club's annual summer prospects camp. The three-day gathering - for players selected in the past two bantam drafts - includes on-ice and off-ice sessions which are designed to acclimate and educate the players on life in the WHL.

"It's an opportunity for these kids to come in and experience a little bit of what junior hockey is all about," said GM Chad Lang. "Being able to meet the coaching staff and see our facilities and see the areas where the kids billet and the school, I think it's a real good opportunity for them and it's in a relaxed environment. It's about building some relationships with potential teammates and learning a little bit more about what our organization can offer them."

The camp also has value as a means of evaluating the players and setting the tone as they work toward training camp in the fall.

"What we want to see is how they come together as a group," added Lang. "The '96s (1996-born players who were drafted in 2011) all experienced it last year so it's an opportunity for us to get a little bit of a headstart on fall training camp and see how these young guys have developed and matured over the last year and see who has an opportunity to maybe compete for one of those roster spots. For the '97 group (from this year's draft) it's an opportunity to see them a little closer and give them a taste of what it takes to play at this level and start to implement some of our ideas, philosophies, workout programs, all those things.

"It's a good first opportunity for us to steer them in what we feel is the right direction."

Practices are open to the public today and Sunday, slated for 10: 30 a.m. to noon at the Co-operators Centre.

- - -

The Pats have added veteran WHL forward Locke Muller to their 50-player protected list in anticipation of him competing for a roster spot in training camp.

"He's a guy who has intrigued us," explained Lang. "I know (head scout) Dale (McMullin) has more familiarity with him because he went through the Red Deer system (when McMullin was the Rebels' senior scout). We actually tried to make a move on him last year and just came up short. Saskatoon was able to get him. He's a big strong power forward. We feel if he does the right things in the offseason and we put him in the right position that he's a guy who could contribute to our hockey club."

Muller, 19, split last season between the Rebels and Blades, recording two goals, 10 points and 87 penalty minutes in 58 games. The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder was a healthy scratch on a few occasions due to discipline issues, apparently working his way into the doghouse of Blades head coach/GM Lorne Molleken, who elected to drop him in the spring.

Lang was quick to pounce, noting he's not concerned about any perceived baggage.

"There's kids that are leaders, there's kids that are followers," noted the Pats' GM. "It's about putting kids in an environment where they know the rules and the limitations. You hope they abide by them and if they don't there's consequences. From our standpoint it's about giving kids the opportunity. I can't comment on what was done in Saskatoon. We've brought in players before and people thought maybe they had some issues with other organizations and we haven't had issues when they were here. We'll see how it goes. I don't think it'll be an issue."

In fact, Lang believes the Pats have nothing to lose by picking Muller off the scrap heap - and potentially everything to gain.

"When you look at our team last year it was probably something that we lacked, that big power forward," he said. "Those guys don't always get the recognition they deserve in those roles, but they can change the tempo of the game. They can create space for players. I think he can be a real effective player. For us it was a free opportunity to bring in a guy who has experience in our league. He's an older guy. Maybe in the right situation and given a fresh start he can take a step forward in his career and at the same time help us out."

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