Harkins Reflects on WHL Season, Looks Forward to Next Year
Prince George, B.C. – It wasn’t the ending he was hoping for, but Prince George Cougars General Manager Todd Harkins says there are still some positives to take from this year’s WHL season.
This just two days after the Cougars were swept by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round of the playoffs.
“I thought we played pretty good versus Seattle, we played two games that went to overtime and in overtime it’s just a bounce here and there,” he says.
“I’d say we did hit some of the goals we set forth – we improved our record, our goals for and our goals against were way different than last year and getting the second most wins in franchise history in Prince George is a very positive thing.”
Looking back on the year, Harkins likes to break everything down into segments.
“Obviously we came out of the gate a little bit slow and then we started rolling in the fall, and then you take the Christmas break and you come back and I thought we did okay, about .500 in January.”
After that he says the annual eastern road swing seemed to tire them out and says the next four home games took a toll.
“Four games at home against two teams that are ranked in the top 10 in the CHL in Kelowna and Red Deer and it just creates a bit of a negative attitude when you don’t win at home and then we just started spiralling, a couple of injuries hit us and we couldn’t hit our mark.”
During the off-season, Harkins promises he’ll leave “not a rock unturned” when reviewing his team’s play.
“Players, personnel, accountability for all of us, no question. I think that’s something that the ownership takes serious, they didn’t buy this team to be mediocre.”
As for next year? “We are really looking forward to it but again at some point you can’t keep saying next year, that’s something we don’t want to get stuck doing because then you’re always chasing it,” he says.
“We want to make sure we have a good summer for these kids, make sure they’re in shape and come back ready to go.”
Harkins says that will be key considering the amount of travel the team must endure each year.
“We’re spending 326 hours on a bus or more, way more than any other team in our league, so our kids have to be physically and mentally fit at the start of the year because that drains them I don’t think we were mature enough to be able to do that.”
He says that really hurt the team in game three versus Seattle this week.
“We didn’t seem to have our legs, we didn’t seem to be in sync, and again I don’t like excuses, I still feel we have to find ways to get around the travel, but when you travel down to Seattle 13,14 hours, play two games and travel right back, where Seattle is just travelling up, they’re going to have a little bit more legs, especially at the end of the season.”