Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

Regina Pats move on from Parker era

The Parker family’s reign over the Regina Pats has come to an end.

Majority owner Russ Parker has sold the storied franchise to Queen City Sports and Entertainment, a local group headed by businessman Anthony Marquart. Former Pats goalie Todd Lumbard and other businessmen are believed to be involved.

Marquart is the president of Regina-based Royalty Developments, which is involved in a variety of major projects - including the 16-storey Brandt Place office building, which is to be located on Rose Street. Royalty Developments also owns Regina's Wingate by Wyndham hotel.

Lumbard, who was a goaltender with the 1982-83 Pats, is the president of Speers Funeral and Cremation Services. (Regina Leader-Post)

The Pats become the third Western Hockey League franchise to change hands in the last 12 months. Jack Brodsky sold the Saskatoon Blades to Edmonton car-dealer Mike Priestner in September and coincidentally his brother Rick Brodsky is waiting on league approval for the sale of the Prince George Cougars to a group consisting of NHL blueliners Dan Hamhuis and Eric Brewer as well as local businessman Greg Pocock.

The Queen City Kids' sale didn't happen over night. Parker and Marquart were in private talks throughout the 2013-14 season.

The dollar amount of the sale hasn't been released. It seems safe to assume the $9 million figure that the Blades sold for last year is a good idea of what the Pats fetched, though.

The league approval by the WHL board of governors of the Pats' ownership change, along with the Cougars, will take place on April 30.

Since Russ and Diane Parker bought the team in 1995, the Pats have had some good days as they won the East Division four times (1998, 2001, 2008 and 2014). But for the most part, the organization struggled to produce a quality on-ice product; they never made it to the Eastern Conference final, missed the playoffs six times, including three years in a row from 2008-09 to 2010-11, and had a record below .500 in nine of the 19 seasons.

Fully warranted, the biggest criticism of the Parker era was that they gave the general manager chair to their son Brent Parker. They let him architect the team for 15 years before he relinquished his duties to Chad Lang in 2010. This nepotism and inconsistent accountability in the front office caused some disconnect between Regina hockey fans and the Parkers.

It goes without saying that the Pats’ winning woes and the lack of change in the head hockey ops’ position hurt their sales at the box office. They only averaged more than 5,000 spectators a game once (2007-08, 5,095) and fell short of 4,000 people (3,956) this year for the first time since 1999-2000. These would be respectable numbers in some smaller communities, but they are a tad low for a city just under 2000,000 people. Not to mention, they don’t have NHL competition as the closest NHL club is roughly six hours away in Winnipeg and the city has shown how they have no problem supporting a winner in the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

It’s unclear what the change of ownership means for Lang and bench boss Malcolm Cameron, who both have two years remaining on their contacts. They have both made quality cases to keep their positions. Lang’s decision to trade for overagers Boston Leier and Jesse Zgraggen played a key role in the Pats snagging the East Division title this year. Cameron, meanwhile, steered the ship of their 39-26-4-3 season as a rookie head coach.

Rumours have already started to fly on whom the Pats' new ownership group might bring in. TSN 1260 host Dean Millard tweeted "Hearing Lorne Molleken to resurface with Pats." Molleken recently parted ways with the Blades after holding the head coach position for nine years and the GM role for 10. The Bridge City Kids made the playoffs seven of the 10 years, but they never made made it to the third round.

Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen

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