Malcolm Cameron was relaxing in his Florida home late last Sunday night when he received a phone call. The voice on the line was Chad Lang, General Manager of the Regina Pats.
The call was to tell Cameron he was being fired as the team's head coach. It came as a shock to the veteran coach, who spoke with CBC Saskatchewan from Florida.
"We were told by the new ownership group that we had earned the right and deserved the right to be there based on the work we did last season. So that's what led to the shock on Sunday night," said Cameron.
Cameron was not the only one surprised at the news. After leading the Pats to their first division title in six years last season, fans expected to see Cameron behind the bench this year.
Cameron said he could not wait to build on the success of last season.
"I thought we were definitely headed in the right direction," said Cameron. "So I would like to have been a part of it for the next couple of years to see it grow and flourish."
A change in direction
The reason for Cameron's dismissal has left many hockey fans scratching their heads. Lang told reporters a consensus was reached between himself and the team's new ownership group that a fresh face was needed after Cameron's two assistants resigned earlier this month.
"Coaching is a pressure-cooked environment to start with and with a guy who had one year left on his contract and now would have to bring in two new guys, you need that cohesiveness of a coaching staff," said Lang.
Lang, who promoted Cameron in 2013 to head coach, believed the timing was right.
"For his [Cameron's] well-being and for the environment and the players involved in our organization, we just felt it was right for all parties to move forward," said Lang.
Cameron finds the idea that it would have been stressful hiring new assistant coaches confusing. He said, head coaches often hire new assistants in the off-season. When asked if he felt any stress about hiring a new staff, Cameron chuckled.
"Honestly, no. I know what it's like. The business moves on," said Cameron. "Maybe that was ownership's perception, which is their right to think that way. But nobody ever asked me. In fact, I was already compiling some names and trying to reach out to some people to take over those positions."
Who is making decisions
The firing of Malcolm Cameron is calling into question who is making the hockey decisions for the team. Is it general manager Chad Lang or the new ownership group, led by local businessman Anthony Marquart?
Lang still believes that as general manager, he is in charge of the hockey operations. But when asked if he or the ownership group has someone in mind to replace Cameron, Lang left room for interpretation.
"Do I have someone in mind? No. They may. Nothing's been disclosed to me at this point. As far as me, no. As far as them, I would probably say no," said Lang.
Lang did say the new owners are keen on hiring people who have ties with the organization. That has led to speculation that former Pats coach Lorne Molleken is in the running for the position.