When the season began, most experts had the Pats as a team that would be sellers around this time of the year, instead Brent Parker went on a shopping spree a few weeks back picking up 2009 first round pick Carter Ashton and Craig Orfino from Lethbridge and a day later 19 year old forward Cass Mappin from Vancouver.
Parker joined The Pipeline Show Tuesday night and discussed the changes on his team, and referred to a conversation I had with him in October at the Challenge Cup in Blackfalds, Alberta.
"You thought I was pulling your leg when we were down in Blackfalds at the under 16. I just liked our group, I like our chemistry and I like they way they work. I was really using our 6 game swing through the west (the Pats were 4-2) to kind of get a gauge of our team, because it was really the last time we had our guys together before some guys went to the World Junior and U17 camps. It told me that we weren't far away and if we could add a couple of pieces and we felt we've got the best player and when you've got the best player you've got a chance."<
Last year Parker's Pats were playing well around this time, but went into a major tail spin when Jordan Eberle and Colton Tuebert left to play for Canada at the World Junior Championship. It was a slide they couldn't recover from and the Pats missed the playoffs. In making some early move this year, Parker is hoping to avoid the swoon now that Eberle and Tuebert are again wearing the maple leaf.
"It gave us that depth that every good team has to have down the stretch. It should help us weather the storm. The other side of it is any time there's change it takes a while for guys to mesh and you get that cohesion in your line up."
The long time Pats G.M.had to be a little worried at the beginning of the season, when Jordan Eberle was turning so many heads at Edmonton Oilers training camp. The 2008 first round pick had many thinking he might be able to crack the roster. While he came close, Eberle was sent back to Regina and Parker was able to breathe a sigh of relief. You would think that with such a whirlwind 365 days which of course also included one very famous goal, that Eberle could have easily developed an ego, but that would make you incorrect.
"The one thing the goal forced him to do was become more media savvy, he's done more interviews in the last year than in his lifetime. He hasn't changed one bit. You wouldn't know that he's had the accomplishments that he's had. He's a very humble young man with good family values and good teammates and extremely coachable. He's been a treat to have in the organization and it may be a long, long time before we see a player of his ability and personality come through here again."
As for Tuebert, more than one person told me he had become a difficult teammate post world junior and that the Pats were regretting not dealing him at the deadline. However Parker painted a different picture of the blueliner who at one point used to write the word "Punisher" on the end of his stick.
"He's a high emotion, personable, electric personality type kid. He's got one speed and it's full pedal to metal all the time, and I think a lot people felt that he was kind of a buffoon at times last year and a Neanderthal is a word I heard enough last year. Colton is a really good kid, I guess the biggest thing is he's matured a little bit and learned to deal with things differently. He's a real team guy that wants to succeed and sometimes he says some things and does some things he wished he could take back. We forget sometimes that they're still young men. He's still a mean ornery SOB to play against and I'm glad he's in our line up."
You can here the complete Brent Parker conversation by clicking here.