My Twitter and Facebook accounts are on fire with one burning question: What’s happening with the Missouri Mavericks search for a new coach?
I went directly to the man himself who is conducting the search, team president Brent Thiessen. In an e-mail I received from Thiessen Wednesday afternoon he said, “Actually tied up all day with candidates. Can we touch base early next week?”
A member of the Mavericks staff told me the list of candidates “is very impressive, a who’s who of coaching standouts.”
I personally can’t wait to see who replaces Scott Hillman, the lone coach in the impressive five-year history of the Central Hockey League team that has reached the postseason each season it has played in the Independence Events Center.
The Mavericks finished last season with the best record in the CHL and home ice throughout the playoffs. Unfortunately, they lost to the Arizona Sundogs in the first round of postseason play in a series that included two double-overtime losses.
Then Hillman dropped a bombshell, announcing his resignation. Last week, he was introduced as the first head coach of the newest team in the ECHL, the Indianapolis Fuel.
“I'm going to miss Scott,” Mavericks captain Sebastien Thinel said, when asked about the departure of the man he played alongside while both were members of the Odessa Jackalopes in the CHL.
“It’s going to be weird going into the coach’s office and having someone besides Scott there. Right now, there are a lot of questions about the team. Questions from the fans and questions from the players, too.
“I plan on coming back to play with the Mavericks, even though Scott won’t be coaching the team. I was a 21-year-old kid when I started with Odessa and Scott was the team captain. We didn’t hang out a lot, but we had a mutual respect for each other. When he asked me to come play in Missouri I immediately said yes.
“But now, he’s gone, and I wish him and his family well. Sometimes, who knows, maybe change is good. Maybe some guys were too comfortable and a new coach will shake things up a little bit.
“At first, it will be interesting to get to know the new coach. But I went through coaching changes in Odessa, and you get to the point where you know the new coach, he knows you and you respect each other.
“Brent has been doing this a long time, and I know he will bring in a quality coach and a quality person to replace Scott. After a few days, we’ll all know about each other and begin the goal of winning a championship.”
That is the lone accolade Thinel, a former league MVP and scoring champion, has not achieved in his lengthy career.
“I know a lot of the boys were talking about retiring after last season,” Thinel said, “but none of us liked the way the season came to an end. I think we’re going to have a solid core of players back from last year. At least, I hope we do, but that will be up to the new coach.”
Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at 350-6333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC