The news and announcements from Thursday's press conference was exciting and incredibly informational. Although many questions regarding swirling rumors in the minor league hockey world were addressed and answered, a few more questions came into play. So, I sat down with the President of the Missouri Mavericks, Brent Thiessen, for a little one-on-one time with the boss. Here's how our conversation went:
Sin Bin: Since the Mavs ownership group has purchased the St. Charles Chill, what will be your role with both franchises moving forward?
Brent Thiessen: As we move forward, I have dropped the GM title with the Mavs, although not much has changed. Scott (Hillman) will still be handling all hockey related matters including recruiting and scouting, and reporting to me. With St.Charles, Jamie Rivers (head coach and General Manager of the Chill) ex-St. Louis Blues defenseman and longtime NHL player, will be handling all of their hockey operations, including scouting, personnel and hockey operations. Both of them are very qualified to do so and will report to me. Nothing has changed with the Mavericks, and with the Chill Patrick (Armstrong) is overseeing the day to day duties. My role will be to lend support where I can. I am not going anywhere and will still be here in Independence.
SB: Fans are concerned that it may become a conflict of interest. Your thoughts?
BT: Not at all, in fact I think it goes the other way. I think our fans can expect to see an amazing rivalry and one that is strong for years to come. The CHL prohibits teams with the same ownership groups to do any player deals with one another so there are no trades with each other. Additionally, this isn't the first time this situation has occurred in our league. Two other times in my career there have been owners that have owned two teams. It is very important for our fans to know that they are separate entities and will operate as such. The Mavs don't own the Chill and vice versa; two totally separate companies operating in the same league. Additionally, with Scott continuing to recruit players as he has always done, there isn't much to conflict with. We believe we have built Missouri to be a premiere franchise in this league and with the same philosophies and quality people, I believe St Charles can do the same thing. St Charles should look forward to an exciting product and a great rivalry out of the gate with the Mavericks.
SB: When can we expect the next round of player announcements?
BT: Throughout the summer we will continue to announce players. We don't have another date in mind yet, but we hope round two is just as much fun as round one was!
SB: What is our affiliation status for the upcoming season?
BT: We are currently working through that right now. We thought our relationship with Chicago was very positive and will look to continue it.
SB: It has been rumored that the CHL has been sold to the Team Owners? Can you confirm this? If so, what does that mean for the league?
BT: That is the direction the owners are moving. I think from a logistical standpoint there is a lot to work through but from a fan standpoint there will not be a difference. The product will remain the same and this will happen behind the scenes. It is an exciting time for our league as we move towards setting up the CHL as other AA leagues are.
SB: Coach Hillman's contract is up after this upcoming season. Have there been talks about an extension? Do you believe that he can get us over the hump and to the promised land?
BT: Of course we believe he can get us there or he would not be here, (it's) that simple. Two consecutive years of going to conference finals and losing in Game 7 to the eventual CHL champion is tough, but it shows how close we are. As far as contractual matters, we will meet after the season as we always do and discuss it.
SB: How is the goaltender situation coming together? Do you expect to have Clemmer (Mike Clemente) or Corbs (Mathieu Corbeil) back next season?
BT: As far as any personnel that we don't have signed yet, forward or goalie, it's difficult to say with certainty. Neither are under contract but its an important position and we will be ready come October.
SB: When can we expect to see the first Mavs jersey to hang from the rafters of the IEC?
BT: We are getting to that point and I know several have their opinions on who should be there. Obviously as we enter year 5 there are certainly some good candidates.
SB: The return of Sebby, Courts, JSD, and Chezy was announced yesterday. How important is it to have veteran players like these in the locker room and on the ice?
BT: The core that was announced yesterday is huge and any team in our league would love to be able to have an announcement like we did yesterday. They are the foundation of this franchise and guys you can always count on. Season 5 got a lot more exciting yesterday.
SB: Obviously the end of every season is disappointing when it's somebody else raising the cup, but did last year's defeat sting a little more than previous years considering all the hype surrounding that roster coming into the season?
BT: It always stings if you don't win the cup. That's why we are here and that is why we do what we do. I think it was frustrating to know you are there and losing to the eventual champs twice in a row in Game 7s should show everyone just how close we have come. Now we have to finish it. We have to remember the feeling and do everything we can to not feel that again.
SB: What is the biggest adjustment that needs to be made on the ice from last season in regards to roster, strategy, preparation, etc.?
BT: Obviously our power play needs to improve and be a threat, and I think throughout the year we had inconsistent play on our back end through injuries and personnel so we hope to shore that up this year. I know Scott is working hard at addressing both of those issues.
SB: Are there any plans to have any of the Mavs games televised? Will the radio partnerships with 610 or 810 take a big step to get more of the games on their frequencies?
BT: We are exploring all of our options right now
SB: Last year was such an up and down campaign. Do you feel like this team, the organization, and the fan base is stronger and closer because of that?
BT: It should be, but I also think that everyone should learn that the season is a marathon and not a sprint. A losing streak at home or a great winning streak on the road are just slivers in the entire season. You look at the final stats and our home record was comparable to others in our league, even Allen the Champs, so it's important to keep everything in perspective and remember that we will not win EVERY game, although we all want that to happen. I think our fan base is tougher because of last year and I am hopeful we can bring the cup home this year and celebrate with our fans.