Rebels hitting reset button

The Red Deer Rebels coaching staff put their charges to work this week, with the practice sessions focused not only on physical components but also the players’ mental makeup. Certainly, there was much to work on with the Rebels having come out on the short end of their last five Western Hockey League outings and heading into a virtual must-win weekend.

The Red Deer Rebels coaching staff put their charges to work this week, with the practice sessions focused not only on physical components but also the players’ mental makeup.

Certainly, there was much to work on with the Rebels having come out on the short end of their last five Western Hockey League outings and heading into a virtual must-win weekend.

“Again, we’re hitting the reset button. Our season has to start over,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said Thursday, looking ahead to tonight’s meeting with the visiting Prince George Cougars and Saturday’s visit by the Moose Jaw Warriors.

“We came back after this last road trip needing to get into a different frame of mind. I hope these last five days have been good with the things we’ve done and how we managed them. We’re now starting a 61-game season.”

Sutter is convinced that the team’s problems are more mental than physical and that the players understand they have to perform with more consistent intensity than has been the case the majority of the season to date. The team’s lack of undeviating emotion and disciplined defensive play is reflected in a 3-7-1-0 record.

“The players all know where the coaches are coming from and where we want our game to be,” said Sutter. “It’s never a good thing when the game itself is generating emotion for you — you have to come to the rink with that emotion and passion for wanting to do well.”

The Rebels aren’t the only team that has stumbled out of the gate. The Kootenay Ice, Victoria Royals and Portland Winterhawks had high aspirations heading into the season and have struggled big time.

“For our players, the important thing is how they handle the adversity and deal with it the right way,” said Sutter.

“Do we want to be in the position we’re in? No, but at the same time it’s not like the season is over for us. We’re just getting started in the regular season, we’re one-seventh in. But we have to get going, we have to get playing the way we want to play. We have to start getting some wins, we have to start getting some points.

“The outcome will always take care of itself if the process and the principles are in place to give yourself a chance to be rewarded. We’ve just had too many games where the process through them haven’t been what we’ve wanted, and it’s just been different things.

“Now we have to put that all together. It’s a long year and you can’t get too riled too early, but we also have to recognize that we have to nail this in the butt right now and get going.”

The Rebels boss wasn’t identifying anyone by name, but he made it clear that NHL first-round draft picks Haydn Fleury and Conner Bleackley absolutely must be major pieces in the puzzle going forward, and that neither has played to his potential so far this fall.

“The reality is we haven’t had enough players play well enough on a consistent basis,” said Sutter. “We’ve shown signs of being a good team — our first three games were the best three we’ve played all season, and why is that?

“Personally I think it had a lot to do with attitudes . . . a lot to do with the attitude of our team when certain guys can back from pro camps. They didn’t come back in the right frame of mind and some of the other players dropped their guard when they got back. We got into a situation where some things were starting to happen and we didn’t respond the right way.

“So now it’s about hitting that button over again and getting back on the right path. We had to get everybody back in a positive frame of mind this week and I feel good about it. But let’s see what happens.”

The Rebels will close out a three-game homestand with a Tuesday date with the Medicine Hat Tigers. Red Deer will open a six-game trip next Friday against the Ice before heading south to clash with each of the five U.S. Division teams.

Rebels

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Johnson & Johnson via AP
What you need to know about Johnson & Johnson’s approved single-dose vaccine

Canada added a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to its pandemic-fighting arsenal on Friday,… Continue reading

FILE - This March 20, 2018, file photo shows the YouTube app on an iPad in Baltimore. YouTube on Friday, March 5, 2021, said it has removed five channels run by Myanmar’s military for violating its community guidelines and terms of service. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
YouTube cancels Myanmar military-run channels, pulls videos

YouTube monitoring the situation for any content that might violate rules

Statistics Canada’s offices in Ottawa are shown on Friday, March 8, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canada posts $1.4B trade surplus for January, first surplus since May 2019

Total imports increased in January to $49.8 billion

The wreckage of a fatal crash involving a semi-truck and the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team bus near Tisdale, Sask., is seen on Saturday, April, 7, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Court to hear arguments on delay in Broncos lawsuit for proposed class action

11 lawsuits have been filed by victims and their families

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Team Canada third John Morris follows as second Carter Rycroft (right) and lead Nolan Thiessen (left) sweep his rock during round robin competition against Team Newfoundland and Labrador at the Brier curling championship, Wednesday, March 9, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Champions at The Brier list

Brier champions since the inception of the Canadian men’s curling championship in… Continue reading

FILE - This Jan. 22, 2013 file photo shows Martin Bashir at the EA SimCity Learn. Build. Create. Inauguration After-Party, in Washington. British police said Thursday March 4, 2021, that they will not launch a criminal investigation into the journalist Martin Bashir over his 1995 interview with the late Princess Diana. (Photo by Nick Wass/Invision/AP, File)
UK police won’t probe journalist over 1995 Diana interview

Diana’s brother alleged Bashir used false documents to convince Diana

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Phil Noble, Pool via AP)
Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Philadelphia Flyers' Sean Couturier (14) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Most Read