Sebastien Thinel and his wife Ashley made a whirlwind stop in Independence Monday to sign up their two boys, Jett and Maddx, for daycare and kindergarten.
The Missouri Mavericks team captain and Central Hockey League icon also signed a standard player contract for the 2014-15 season.
“Sebby is excited to return and anxious to win his first championship,” team president and general manager Brent Thiessen said Monday afternoon.
That is also the goal of first-year head coach Richard Matvichuk, a former assistant coach for the rival Allen Americans, who won the past two CHL crowns.
“Over the last three years, Thinel has averaged 25 goals and over 90 points. He is a true talent and a fan favorite,” Matvichuk said. “Sebastien and his family have been embraced by this community, and after my conversations with him I know he has one goal, to return the favor by bringing the City of Independence and surrounding area a championship.”
Thinel has been with the Mavericks the past three years, accumulating 75 goals and 197 assists in 196 games. He is second all-time in the history of the CHL in assists (609) and third all-time in points (919).
The St. Jerome, Quebec, native claimed the CHL Most Valuable Player Award for the 2012-13 and 2008-09 seasons.
“I’m excited to be coming back to Independence with the Mavericks,” Thinel said by phone as he drove his family to Quebec, where they will vacation with family and friends. “I’m not so sure about this drive – we usually fly – but we want to stop and see a friend along the way, so we thought this would be best.”
When asked about playing for Matvichuk, Thinel said, “I can’t wait. I enjoyed playing for Scott (Hillman, the only coach in Missouri history, who was also a teammate of Thinel’s when they played for the now-defunct Odessa Jackalopes). But Scott made the decision to coach elsewhere (with Indianapolis, a new franchise in the ECHL), and I like everything I have heard from Richard. I was hoping we would meet today, but he is not here. But our phone conversations have been good. I know he wants to win a championship and that is why I came here three years ago – to play on a team that could win a championship.”
The sooner-than-anticipated ending to last season, when the No. 1-seeded Mavericks lost in six games to a much-improved No. 8 seed Arizona, provided some incentive.
“We had a great team last year during the regular season and then, I don’t know what happened in the playoffs,” Thinel said. “No one liked the way last season ended. I know a lot of veteran guys, who said they might not come back this season, are thinking about coming back. I think we are going to have another solid core of players and I know Richard is talking about bringing in some great new players.
“I can’t wait. I’m very excited for the season and hope we can finally give our fans a championship.”