Regina Pats looking to the future
Looking in the organization’s mindset moving forward
Earlier in the month, it was announced that the WHL was committed to the start of a 24-game season. In a press release from the WHL, Commissioner Ron Robison stated the following with regards to what the organization hopes to accomplish with the shortened schedule:
“The Western Hockey League is committed to providing a season for WHL players. This commitment ensures WHL players will receive the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the system and continue to pursue their hockey goals in the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players.”
This announcement, much like the return of the NHL recently, holds both positive and negative elements. The opportunity to play is certainly an exciting prospect for players, yet the COVID-19 related health risks could be a serious issue. This is, of course, all hypothetical at the moment as the season won’t officially start until health authorities give the go ahead to the WHL.
In the meantime, I was able to discuss the Regina Pats view of the announcement with Director of Brand Marketing & Communications Evan Daum, who offered his thoughts just below:
“Obviously, everybody is anxious to try and get going. But right now, in a situation where there’s still a lot to be worked out in terms of what the season would look like, and clearly the approvals from the different health authorities as well, I think that’s the thing to emphasis with people is, as much as we want to get going and as much planning can go into it, we’re still waiting for the word go from health authorities as they work through our plans and have to balance the various things that they need to balance. So that’s the linchpin in all of this is getting approval from the health authorities to begin play.”
I also asked Daum about the Pats’ views on player safety during COVID and how the organization will move forward regarding such if the season were to begin.
“Yeah, I don’t think a whole lot changes in terms of that, you know, a lot of work has gone into making sure that when we do get back to playing hockey, that it’s done in a safe way. And the planning started really over the course of the summer as the pandemic progressed and carried into the fall. So, in terms of sort of the health and safety protocols, you know, those things have been relatively settled since the fall.”
Daum also mentioned that, although those views on player safety have been ‘relatively settled,’ there is still room for things to grow as more developments emerge. Continuing our discussion, Daum commented on how a 24-game season could impact the Pats.
“There’s a lot of built up excitement from everybody involved in the game about getting the opportunity to play. So I think the 24 games is going to be an opportunity to develop. We’re excited about any opportunity we get to play some meaningful games for the group.”
Nearing the end of our conversation, Daum was able to give his thoughts on whether (with COVID-19 as it stands currently) the possible beginning of a 24-game season is the right move.
“Yeah, I mean, obviously, the most important thing not only for hockey organizations, but society as a whole is the health and safety of the general public, and making sure that we all do our part. COVID-19 is not something that should be taken lightly. And as it’s proven, it’s had significant ramifications on all of our lives. You know, unfortunately there’s been a lot of loss of life due to COVID-19, so there’s no diminishing the significance of the pandemic in terms of making sure that we do everything we can to make sure as many people are safe as possible.”
I think that, you know, our group and the Western Hockey League and other teams around the league have done a lot of work in trying to make sure that everything that we do is going to be in a safe environment. Everybody who’s going to be involved is going to be in as safe an environment as they possibly can be. So we’re confident in the protocols that we’ve put in place, and looking forward to an opportunity to get back to the rink and give our players a chance to continue to develop.”
Lastly, I asked Daum what the focus for the Pats organization will be in the event that the 24-game season does not go through.
“Yeah, I mean, the focus for the organization, as it has been throughout the pandemic, is to look forward to the next game, whenever that next game is. That could be in a short 24 game regular season, it could be in the fall, obviously we hope it’s not in the fall, and then it’s sooner. Really our focus is to make sure that the organization is prepared both on and off the ice to compete once we get the opportunity to do so.”
Hopefully this provides a bit of a clearer look at the mindset of the Regina Pats organization.