Missouri Mavericks president and general manager Brent Thiessen has worked tirelessly with coach Scott Hillman to build a team that Eastern Jackson County hockey fans can be proud of.
Q5: Brent Thiessen
Missouri Mavericks president and general manager Brent Thiessen has worked tirelessly with coach Scott Hillman to build a team that Eastern Jackson County hockey fans can be proud of. Thiessen was with the team in Mississippi when the Mavericks downed the RiverKings 3-1 in front of a small crowd. After that long bus ride back from Southaven, Miss., Thiessen talked about his team, his coach and the fans who make home at the Independence Events Center so special.
1. What was it like being on hand at the DeSoto Civic Center to watch that deciding playoff win in Mississippi? That win was very special to me for two reasons – and neither one of them had to do with the final score. First, and foremost, that win was for our fans. I know how loyal they have been. We had employees back at the Events Center call to tell us how many fans we had at the watch party – and it might have been how many were at the DeSoto Civic Center in Mississippi. Just an incredible turnout. So many individuals and businesses have had faith in us this year – our fans, our season ticket holders, our corporate sponsors … and believe me, it would not have been such a successful season if it hadn’t been a team effort involving all those people. Second, the boys on the team, Scott Hillman, Andrew Dvorak (the equipment manager) – everyone involved with the team, deserved to enjoy the success and rewards that come from winning a playoff series. I’m just so happy that all their hard work was rewarded, and to see it first hand was something I will never forget.
2. What did the win mean to the franchise? Let me put this the right way, because I don’t want people to misinterpret what I’m saying. The win was special, and well deserved. But, we are a long, long way from where we want to be as a franchise. We want to be the type of team that challenges for a championship every year. We want to be the team other teams talk about having to get past to win a championship – and I think we getting closer and closer to being that type of team. What win Thursday night meant to this franchise was this – the skeptics were silenced and the doubters became believers. We validated our product and showed our fans why we made 40-some roster moves this season.
3. Could you ever envision 40-plus players on your first-year roster? To be honest, and candid, no. We had a plan from Day 1, a strategy, a road map to get to where we are today. I know there were people who doubted some of the moves and questioned other transactions. But every move we made, both Scott and I felt, were the right moves for the team. I’ve never been involved with a team that made this many transactions, but look at the time right now. You know, Scott said earlier in the day that we’re 0-5 against Rapid City. Then he added, ‘But we’re not 0-5 with this team.’ We played them early in the season with a different team, and we’re excited to see how this team does against one of the best teams in the CHL.
4. The guys on this team seem more like a family than members of a professional sports team. Where does that camaraderie come from? That’s what I was talking about, when I said that Scott wanted to bring the right type of players to this team. Take for instance, the T-shirts the fans signed for our players at the last home game. Most of the guys took those T-shirts and wore them home. Jeff MacDermid came up to me in the locker room and said he didn’t get a shirt. I came up to the office, got a shirt for Jeff, and he put it on. Most of the guys wear them under their jerseys. It was a big deal to the guys on the team, and it was a big deal to our organization. I think they’re wanting to cling onto anything they can to make this season last as long as it can. They love our fans, and our fans love the guys on the team. It’s all really amazing.
5. What do you think the crowd at the Events Center is going to be like this weekend? Off the charts, crazy, wild, electric, unbelievable. After playing in front of so few fans in Mississippi, the guys couldn’t wait to get back home and play in front of a sold-out crowd. The noise level at our last game was deafening. All the players commented on it. And we’re going to do everything we can as an organization to make sure that what we witnessed in Mississippi never happens here. We never want our team to skate in front of 400 or 500 fans. The Events Center isn’t just a place to play hockey, it’s a place to come for an event, for something special, for something you will talk about for days and weeks to come.