After their failure to make the playoffs last season Pats GM Chad Lang took a broom to the front office and more or less swept it clean, firing head coach Curtis Hunt, head scout Todd Ripplinger and assistant coaches Shaun Sutter and Ryan Cyr. He also made some late season trades of veteran players for younger prospects. Former NHLer Pat Conacher is the new head coach, and while the team does boast some veteran talent like Jordan Weal, Brandon Davidson, and Artem Bidlevskii, the bulk of the team is on the younger side of the junior hockey spectrum.

The Pats are in the midst of of a three-year playoff drought, but really their struggles go back a lot further than that. If you were to look at the last 25 years, there may have been a handful of seasons when they met or exceeded expectations, but for the most part they’ve tended to underperform.

With expectations relatively low this year, that likely won’t be the case. Hopefully, Pat fans will recognize where the team is at in its rebuilding process and be patient. But at the same time, they shouldn’t have to endure game after game where the team doesn’t show up and put forth an honest effort. In past years, that’s been a definite problem. And once that type of culture takes hold in a dressingroom it can be tough shake.

Tonight at Brandt Centre, the Pats kick off their 2011-12 season with a game against the Swift Current Broncos. Game time is 7 p.m.