Editor’s note: The Examiner will be announcing the members of the Missouri Mavericks’ Top 10 all-time team over the next two weeks. Each sports section will feature a member of the team, as voted on by fans on the Mavericks home web page. Two-time CHL MVP forward Sebastien Thinel is the first player to be featured.
By Bill Althaus
It’s appropriate that veteran forward Sebastien Thinel would kick off the Missouri Mavericks' Top 10 all-time team celebration, as no player has made an impact like the former Central Hockey League scoring champion and MVP.
“When you look at Sebbie’s accomplishments, then realize what an important part of our community he and his family have become over the past three years, it shows what a special individual he is,” team president Brent Thiessen said of the team captain who ranks second all-time in CHL history in assists and third in scoring.
“Let’s be honest. A lot of players of his caliber arrive with an ego and some baggage. But not Sebbie. He has a great family. His boys are involved with hockey, Sebbie goes out of his way to get involved in the community and I know that he and his wife Ashley can’t wait to get back to Independence to get their boys in school and wait for the season to start.
“He knows this community has given a lot to him and this team, and he wants to give back. This is the perfect way to start out our Top 10 list.”
Thinel and wife Ashley made a whirlwind stop in Independence last Monday to enroll their two boys, Jett and Maddx, in daycare and kindergarten.
“This is home,” said Thinel, who spends part of the summer at his home in Odessa, Texas (the site of his former CHL team, the defunct Odessa Jackalopes). “Ashley loves it here, our boys love it here and I love the community.
“It is so easy to come back to a place we feel like is home. The fans are special, the community has embraced us and we love it here. Now, we have to find a way to give our fans and the community a championship.”
That is the lone goal of first-year head coach Richard Matvichuk, who met with fans this past Saturday at the first Mavericks Summer Games and Tailgate Party at the Independence Events Center.
“Over the last three years, Thinel has averaged 25 goals and over 90 points. He is a real 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 a championship.”
Thinel has been with the Mavericks the past three years, accumulating 75 goals and 197 assists in 196 games to give him 609 career assists and 919 career points. The St. Jerome, Quebec, native claimed the CHL Most Valuable Player Award for the 2008-09 and 2012-13 seasons, the latter with the Mavericks.
“I’m honored to be the first player announced in the team’s Top 10 list,” Thinel said by phone as he and his family visited relatives in Quebec. “There are a lot of other players who deserve this type of recognition, and I want to thank the fans for voting for me.”
Although he has not yet met the Mavericks new coach, he said he has enjoyed their conversations over the phone.
“I can’t wait to meet Richard,” Thinel said. “I enjoyed playing for Scott (Hillman). 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.
“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.”
Thinel said there is a time and place to talk about his personal success, and that is long after he has retired from the game in a division he has dominated for more than a decade.
“When I retire, I will start thinking about the personal accomplishments,” Thinel said. “Last year was great during the regular season because we won the Governors’ Cup (signifying the best record during the regular season), and very disappointing in the playoffs. I don’t know what happened in the playoffs.
“No one liked the way last season ended. I know how hard Brent and Richard are working this offseason to bring back the best players from last year’s team and bring in new players like (former Allen defenseman Scott) Langdon. I’ve had so much fun in Missouri, but we have not been able to achieve our only goal – a championship. When I talk with Brent and Richard, I feel like that is a real possibility this year.”