REGINA — The next chapter in the storied history of the Regina Pats will begin by taking a page from their past.
The WHL club went back to the future on Wednesday by unveiling a vintage third jersey which will be featured prominently on home ice during the 2010-2011 season. The Reebok jersey is a throw-back design to the one which was worn by the 1924-25 Pats, who captured the franchise's first Memorial Cup title.
"To pay tribute to that 1924-25 team and the success they had is only fitting," Pats GM Chad Lang said Wednesday during a media gathering at the Brandt Centre. "As an organization we've underwent a lot of change this off-season and it's our mandate to have success too. I think it's an opportunity for us to kind of set the bar of what our expectations are. When we look at the jersey it's a reflection of an era that was very successful and that's what we're looking for in this new era."
The Pats will officially begin that journey when they open training camp nine days from now at the Co-operator's Centre. It'll be Regina's first camp under the direction of Lang, who was hired in the off-season after Brent Parker relinquished the GM's role and became team president.
Lang is taking over a club that's desperate to turn the page after two straight disappointing seasons which spawned a bitter playoff drought. Despite the perception of lowered expectations from outside the organization, there remains a sense of urgency for this year's team to display some measure of progress — tangible or otherwise.
"Pressure is only a matter of how you look upon it," noted Lang. "Pressure is a good situation as well. Any time you put pressure on yourself, you just elevate the level of your expectations. Our expectations are to put forward a very competitive hockey club this year. As an organization we want to win and we know there's a process to getting to that point. I think the players coming back understand what our expectations will be and those expectations will be to compete each and every night."
Lang's optimism seems to have rubbed off on the players, who are eager to begin with a clean slate.
"It's a new year, a new team and I'm really excited to get started," said Pats centre Jordan Weal. "There's a lot of excitement on our team. It's kind of a fresh new start. A lot of the young guys are going to be leaders now. I think a lot of us are ready to take that as an opportunity and as a challenge. We're ready to take that and use it."
The same sentiments apply to the team's new jerseys, which represent a piece of the franchise's rich tradition. The Pats believe their heritage, like the jerseys, should be worn with a sense of pride and inspiration as they work towards a prosperous future.
"Obviously the last time these jerseys were worn it was in a Memorial Cup championship and they ended up winning," said veteran right-winger Garret Mitchell, who's expected to wear the captain's C this season. "It's the longest living junior hockey (franchise) in history in Canada so that's pretty cool to put on a jersey like this."
In the end, it seemed like a perfect fit.
"You look back at the past and see all the championships we've won — this (1924-25 team) being one of them — it's a real honour to get to wear this jersey," added Weal. "Hopefully we can do it proud."
- Regina Pats