Well hey there. Remember me? I bet you thought you wouldn't hear much out of me until October, but au contraire mon frère (that's French, and yes, I'm a classy dude). Today was too much of an exciting day to not chime in with my two cents.
The Mavericks held their first press conference of the off-season on Thursday, and the thirst for hockey is still quite alive in the area. The President's Club inside the IEC was jam-packed with proud members of The Orange Army clamoring for the first wave of player announcements for the 2013-14 season.
Mavericks' President Brent Thiessen took to the microphone first and provided some great details on upcoming promotions, partnerships, and giveaways planned for the milestone campaign. While all of that stuff is important and exciting, many of those in attendance were especially interested to hear about the future of the team, the CHL, but also to address some rumors that had been swirling for couple of weeks. Thiessen worked through his agenda, and finally came to the moment at hand: Thiessen announced that the Mavericks ownership group has purchased the St. Charles Chill franchise.
Many of you had heard whispers, but Thiessen finally put the rumors to bed. Gauging the reaction on social media and the message boards has been interesting. To be honest, it's almost been split down the middle. A lot of fans are excited to see that the Chill will join the CHL for this upcoming season, and also that they will be run by some of the stellar staff from the Mavs, including Thiessen and former VP of Communications Patrick Armstrong who has accepted the position of Executive VP with St. Charles. Other fans are worried that it may stretch all parties involved a little too thin. Both sides have valid points. How do I feel about it you might ask? I'm cautiously optimistic. We all know what a great job Thiessen and the Mavs staff have done in the four seasons since they first stepped foot (or skate I suppose) on the ice at The IEC. If they can do the same thing in St. Charles, without sacrificing time and effort in Independence, then I'm all for it, and the CHL will be a better league for all.
Now to the climax of the press conference: the player announcements. After Coach Scott Hillman spoke a few words, he announced that the first four players to sign with the team for the upcoming season were anything but strangers to this fan base. Reigning CHL Most Valuable Player (along with all the other hardware he brought home) Sebastien Thinel, playoff hero Andrew Courtney, "Mr. Consistency" John-Scott Dickson, and the Master of Mischief Dave "Chezy" Pszenyczny will all be coming back for another year with the team.
I won't bore you with statistics or clichés. The fact of the matter is that if you want to build a championship team, you start with laying the foundation with veteran players who know how to play the game, and more importantly, respect the game. While the moves that were announced today were anything but a shock, they were essential to the success of this team moving forward. Coach Hillman has done a terrific job developing young players that practically come out of nowhere, and having players like Sebby, Courts, JSD, and Chezy plays a huge factor in that development. He has the luxury of having players like those four that lead by example on the ice, but also do the right things off of it.
Here's my favorite part of today's press conference: the countdown to next season has officially begun. I can't wait until the next round of player announcements, and I'm sure you all feel the same. One thing is certain; leadership will not be an issue for your 2013-2014 Missouri Mavericks.