James Patrick’s Vision: Shaping the Future of the Victoria Royals with Teamwork, Culture, and Player Development
James Patrick, the newly appointed head coach of the Victoria Royals, shed light on his journey to the West Coast, his coaching philosophy, and his vision for the team’s future. As the Royals continue their 2023-24 campaign, let’s dive into the details of Patrick’s transition and his aspirations for the club.
Patrick, who joined the Royals earlier this summer in a player development role, explained the circumstances that led him to make the move to Victoria. His decision was deeply rooted in his passion for coaching and helping to create a positive culture in Victoria. This was complemented by a strong existing relationship with Royals Associate General Manager Jake Heisinger. He recognized their relationship as one of the consistent pillars during the ICE relocation from Cranbrook to Winnipeg.
“When the team moved, I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to go in, and I decided to take the year off for a number of different circumstances,” Patrick explained. “But when this new opportunity arose, it was a way for me to still be involved in the game.”
His involvement with the Royals over the last few months allowed him to gain a thorough understanding of the organization, its players, and the city of Victoria. Patrick’s experience involved observing the team in action and studying the ever-evolving Western Conference landscape.
“I think there are a lot of positives moving forward with this team,” he said, highlighting the potential of the squad.
Reflecting on his coaching style, Patrick emphasized the significance of understanding the nuances of coaching young players. With seven years in the league under his belt, he acknowledged the vital role young prospects play in a junior hockey team’s development. In the WHL, the difference between a 16-year-old and a 20-year-old player can be substantial. Patrick learned the importance of patience, instilling confidence, and fostering a two-way street of growth and development.
“You have to help the players understand how there has to be sacrifice. The team has to come first. I think that is a really big part of how culture is, the team comes first,” emphasized Patrick. “Coming to the rink every day to get better, competing on a nightly basis goes a long way.”
Patrick’s track record is impressive, notably winning the WHL Coach of the Year award in the 2021-22 season. This achievement underlines the value of having players buy into the coach’s system and vision, especially at the junior hockey level. According to Patrick, junior players are eager to be part of something special and work hard to achieve their dreams of reaching the NHL or pro leagues.
The synergy within the hockey operations staff is another critical factor for success. Patrick has an already existing ability to recognize others’ goals and strategies which have contributed to past success.
Building a winning culture, as Patrick points out, involves discussions about the importance of teamwork, respect, and sacrifice.
Speaking of synergy, that plays a major role in the aspect of building a strong team culture. Patrick emphasized the importance of building that culture from the top of the organization to the bottom.
“We talk about it every day – every team meeting, every video session, every team meal, at team building activities. It’s being reinforced or there’s been discussions about it,” stated Patrick. “It doesn’t just come from me, it’s a whole organizational component. When you get it down pat, then your older players pass it down to the younger players.”
While Patrick refrained from singling out specific players on the Royals’ current roster, he believes the team has a great deal of potential, and their development is ongoing. He emphasized the shrinking gap between teams in the Western Conference and the Royals’ ability to compete at the highest level.
As the Royals head into a new era under James Patrick’s leadership, there’s a palpable sense of excitement and optimism in Victoria. With Patrick’s focus on teamwork, culture, and player development, the Royals aim to make their mark on the WHL and achieve even greater success in the not-so-distant future.