It’s going to be a new, yet familiar face calling the shots for the Regina Pats behind the bench.
The team announced Thursday John Paddock will be transitioning into being the team’s full-time general manager and vice-president of hockey operations. Taking his place will be Pats assistant coach Dave Struch.
“I never really did grasp how exciting it is until just now,” Struch said.
Struch spent one season as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades back in 2013. He was one of the finalists when the Pats were interviewing for the job four years ago — that job would go to Paddock.
He said he was disappointed he didn’t get the job and didn’t think it was in the cards to become an assistant coach, but he would accept that very role with the Pats.
“I’m so thankful that I did for myself, my family, my kids because of the payoff,” Struch said.
Struch praised Paddock and the organizations work on developing talented hockey players in recent years.
“With the quality of people that we have running our organization, we get to work, we’re allowed to work and it’s paid off for us so we just get to continue on developing.”
With openings around the league, Struch could’ve found himself a head coaching job with another team in the league but he wanted to stick around the Pats organization.
“You really want to work with good people and you want to trust the people you’re working with.”
With Struch taking over, it marks the end of the successful Paddock-coached era of the Pats.
In his four years as head coach, Paddock took the team to the WHL Finals in 2017 and the Memorial Cup Finals as the host team in 2018. He also set a franchise record for wins with 52 during the 2016-17 season.
With his stepping away from coaching, Paddock reflected on what he will miss the most about being a bench boss.
“Game night,” Paddock said. “Coaching is the closest thing to playing so you actually have a say in the game when you’re coaching.”
Paddock said the plan since Struch joined the organization was to have him take over the head coaching job.
The Pats have already begun to build for next season, with the completion of the CHL Import Draft.
Seventeen-year-old Russian forward Sergei Alkhimov was taken 47th overall by the team and Russian defenceman Nikita Sedov was taken 107th in the draft. Both played with Colorado Evolution U16 for the 2017-18 season.