John Paddock came to the Regina Pats just weeks before training camp in 2014 and hit the ground running.
He hasn’t stopped since.
The Pats announced Thursday morning that Paddock, who is the team’s general manager and head coach, along with his assistants, Dave Struch and Brad Herauf, have inked multi-year extensions.
“The coaches not only have done a great job on the ice but off the ice, just the whole culture of our organization has been first class,” said Todd Lumbard of the Pats’ ownership group. “I think that’s translated to our play, to our community representation and they’ve been a huge key to the success of the franchise.”
Paddock, who played and coached in the NHL before coming to Regina, said the fit was perfect from the beginning.
“It’s been a tremendous experience in every aspect on and off the ice from the very start,” Paddock said after the announcement. “I remember probably during the first year or second year telling one of my daughters you could just never … imagine going any place that was going to work out as good as it did overall.”
Paddock brought a culture shift within the organization, which he said is the thing he is most proud of. It starts off the ice with the players but has the WHL brass noticing.
“The ultimate compliment I’ve heard towards us was the first or second year from (WHL commissioner) Ron Robison saying we’re a flagship franchise, we’re like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens out here and so that’s really important to live up to that and maintain that.”
“We are a destination place, I believe. I think we put ourselves in the same kind of things as the Kelownas and Brandons: That (Regina is) a good place to play, we take care of the players, we want to be successful,” Paddock said.
He’ll do that with help from his two assistant coaches, Struch and Herauf, who he trusted to take over the bulk of the coaching duties heading into the trade deadline.
Paddock and Struch’s start was unconventional as they were thrown into coaching together in the summer of 2014, but Struch said it worked immediately.
“Two hours and 15 minutes on a phone call. The first fifteen minutes we talked about hockey and the next two hours was about life and family and people and friend and places we’ve been so it all happened right then and then we decided to talk about a vision for the hockey team.”
A vision that will have to extend past a Memorial Cup appearance that saw the team having to offload draft picks and prospects in an effort to “win now” as opposed to later.
Paddock admitted after the deadline that in a non-Memorial Cup year the team would have been sellers, not buyers.
But Struch feels they’ve prepared themselves for that.
“Where we’re going to go from this is going to be that much more special because we get to try and do it all over again after the hosting of the Memorial Cup … I think we’ve developed through our process a pretty good program, so the standard of excellence is there and we just have to fine tune it with a younger team next year.”
Struch, a former WHL head coach himself, would have opportunities across the league had he chose to pursue them, but he’s ready to stay with the Pats and Paddock for the long haul.
“What they’ve done for me the opportunity they’ve given me. The opportunity of having my input and invested interest in everything we’ve done – allowing me to express my ideas – when you put that much into and you’ve invested that much you want to see it out. So this is an opportunity to continue to see the success of this organization and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
The Pats are next in action on Friday night in a sold-out match up against the first place Moose Jaw Warriors and will be Regina’s first real test since the trade deadline.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m.