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Examiner
  • Bill Althaus: Mavs have special bond with their fans

  • The fourth annual Missouri Mavericks Farewell Party at the Independence Events Center was much like a graduation party. There was an abundance of smiles, hugs and the exchange of phone numbers and email addresses, but there were also a few tears.

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  • The fourth annual Missouri Mavericks Farewell Party at the Independence Events Center was much like a graduation party. There was an abundance of smiles, hugs and the exchange of phone numbers and email addresses, but there were also a few tears.
    That's because the 1,000 or so members of the Orange Army who attended knew they were saying goodbye to a number of fan favorites who would never again wear the orange and blue of the Missouri Mavericks.
    And you can count me among that group.
    I have developed a special relationship with coach Scott Hillman and his team. Hillman calls me after every road game so I can write up a game account that hopefully makes Examiner readers feel like they were at the game.
    I have players' phone numbers and email addresses, and I often give them a call. But a few, like Mike Clemente and Sebastien Thinel, will call me after games – win or lose – to give their thoughts and opinions.
    When you're around a team as much as I am the Mavericks, you develop special bonds that I hope will not be broken by distance.
    I still talk with former goaltender and fan favorite Charlie Effinger on a regular basis and when my phone rang at 8 a.m. on Christmas morning, I figured at that early hour it had to be Santa Claus.
    But I was wrong. It was another former fan favorite, Toby LaFrance, calling from France to tell me about his new baby boy Manny and how much he missed the fans in Eastern Jackson County.
    “When I found out I was playing in Missouri, I was so disappointed,” said rookie forward Kellan Tochkin, a native of Abbotsford, B.C., who had no idea what to expect. “I thought all our fans would be rednecks, chewing tobacco and riding horses.
    “I was so wrong. I love Independence and this area. I'm a kid from Canada and I didn't even know Kansas City was in Missouri and Kansas the state. I'll never forget Independence or our fans.”
    David Simoes, who was forced to retire after a career-ending concussion, is going to call Eastern Jackson County his home.
    John-Scott Dickson married a local girl and they just closed on a home in Liberty.
    “I am so honored and blessed to have been a part of this team the past two years,” Dickson said. “I can't imagine playing anywhere else.”
    Neither can a trio of veterans who could return for the 2013-14 season to provide a solid nucleus for the Mavericks – forwards Jardine, Colt King and Thinel, the 2012-13 CHL MVP.
    “It tells you something when the veteran guys want to come back,” Hillman said. “The young guys like Toch, Millsie (Kenton Miller), (Mathieu) Corbeil and Clemmer (Clemente), they're so good and have such great futures.
    Page 2 of 2 - “What an honor to be a part of their journey to the next level. We know we're going to lose a lot of talent off this team, but we're so fortunate to know that a lot of the veteran guys are going to be back.”
    And that takes a bit of a sting off the end of a season that began with so much promise and ended for the second year in a row with a loss in the seventh game of the semifinal series.
    “Someday, and I hope it's soon,” Dickson said, “we're going to hold that cup over our heads after the last game of the season, and I hope I'm still here because I want to share that moment with our fans.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     
     
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