So the man some affectionately call Joe Pesci in Regina has been fired. Who replaces Dale Derkatch as head coach then? I'll get into that in a second, but first a couple of things. Firstly, Pats General Manager Brent Parker will join Guy and myself tonight on TPS. The show airs from 7-9 mountain time on the TEAM 1260 AM in Edmonton or online around the world here where you can also find out who else is on the show. Secondly, after speaking to a few people in Saskatchewan here are some thoughts on why Derkatch and his assistant Terry Perkins were blown out.
I had heard rumblings when the Pats were in Edmonton this past January that Perkins wasn't going to be back as an assistant. His contract was up at the end of the year and the word was it wasn't being renewed. Derkatch has 2 more years left on his deal and it's an expensive decision made today by Brent Parker, but one he felt he had to make. I've been told that Derkatch might have been to hard on his star players, and that he and Perkins were to similar in that they both played the bad cop role meaning the players didn't have a release in the way of a good cop, something the assistant coach usually provides. I've also been told the lines of communication weren't that strong between coach and G.M. something we'll talk about tonight. Here is Brent Parker's quote from the official media release:
“This was not an easy decision and a great deal of thought has gone into arriving at this point. We are all disappointed in the performance of our team this past year, especially considering we feel we had above average talent on our roster. It is a tough league for an inexperienced coach and there is no question that played into our lack of success.”
Did Brent Parker overestimate Dale Derkatch's ability to adapt to the WHL after coaching only Bantam and Midget at Notre Dame? These are questions we'll ask the G.M. tonight as well. Some say you don't become a real head coach until you're fired. That's not the case for everyone (Brent Sutter) but if it's true here, this experience should help Derkatch in his next job. As for his replacement, here are 5 possibilities, and who they are currently coaching.
5. Chad Mercier-Bonnyville Pontiacs-AJHLChad was an assistant coach in Regina for 5 seasons, serving under Lorne Molleken and Bob Lowes. He was passed over for the job when Curtis Hunt was hired, and Mercier headed north to Saskatoon to rejoin Molleken. Mercier is a former Pats goaltender and has strong ties to the club. For the past 3 seasons he's been the bench boss in Bonnyville and led the Pontiacs to a 35 win season and a 4th place finish this year. Mercier reportedly received an interview last year and could be on Brent Parker's radar again this season.
4. Marc Habscheid-No Where
Habscheid's name has come up for nearly every vacant WHL job in the last couple of years. But what also usually follows is word that he wants to much money and to much control. He was fired after one season in Boston when Dave Lewis got the axe, and is still getting paid by the Bruins, so he's pretty picky about what job he'll take. He was interviewed last year as well, and was in the running for the job in Prince George from what I heard, but his terms were to high for both teams. He does bring plenty of WHL experience as he coached for 7 years in Kelowna and Kamloops winning the Memorial Cup with the Rockets in 2004. He also coached Canada at the World Junior Championship in 2003.
3. Boris Rybalka-Camrose Kodiaks-AJHL
He's the biggest long shot on the list and some of the polish has come off his reputation after a down year in Camrose this year, but he's won plenty in the past. Up until this year the Kodiaks were perennial RBC favorites and have produced plenty of great players. Mason Raymond, Joe Colborne, Mike Connolly. The question is would Rybalka leave a very cushy gig in Camrose for a possible rebuilding club in Regina?
2. Curtis Hunt-Binghamton Senators-AHL
Did Brent Parker make the move on gassing his head coach today because Curtis Hunt suddenly became available again? I have a hard time believing Hunt would leave the AHL to return to the WHL, but if he was going to be let go by Ottawa for the second time it could happen. Hunt was fired along with Craig Hartsburgh but was given the head coaching job for the Sens farm team in Binghamton. He led the baby Sens to 15 wins in their last 32 games but came up 2 points shy of a post season berth. His name came up several times today in conversations I had about who replaces Derkatch.
1. Dean Brockman-Humboldt Broncos-SJHL
Many people don't know this but I've been told Brockman very quietly received an interview last year before the Pats settled on Dale Derkatch. Did they go for sizzle instead of steak? Some people think so. Brockman is the SJHL's version of Boris Rybalka with more bling. He's coached the Broncos for 11 years and has won 40 plus games the last 3 seasons, including 48 a year ago when Humboldt won a National title beating Rybalka's Kodiaks. The Broncs have won the SJHL title the last 3 years including 08-09 and are back at the RBC looking to defend their title.