As his former Missouri Mavericks teammates went through their first practice session Thursday morning, defenseman Dave Pszenyczny greeted fans as they entered the Independence Events Center for the news conference detailing the team’s entrance into the ECHL.
When asked why he wasn’t on the ice, Pszenyczny, who has 30 goals and 55 assists in 177 career games in Missouri, told them he had been released.
Now that the former Central Hockey League team is part of the ECHL, the Mavericks must cut two veterans from their roster. Pszenyczny was the first victim of the new format. He wasn't technically released but was not signed. When the CHL teams joined the ECHL, all CHL contracts were voided and teams had to sign the players to new ECHL deals.
A veteran in the CHL was a player who had appeared in 300 games. That total drops to 260 games in the ECHL because it is known more as a developmental league for the National Hockey League.
“It’s part of the game, it’s a business and I understand it,” Pszenyczny said, as the fans shook their heads and offered their condolences. “The main thing I want is for fans to not turn on the organization.
“I knew the team had to cut two veterans and I’ve been thinking a lot about this. It’s not the first time I’ve been released and it probably won’t be the last. I was talking to Dix (John-Scott Dickson) after it happened and as we talked, my phone was blowing up.
“I’m going to be playing in the IEC this season; I’ll just be wearing a different uniform.”
The member of the Mavericks' All-Time Top 10 team tallied 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) and a team-high 166 penalty minutes last season.
Later that morning at the news conference, first-year coach Richard Matvichuk made the announcement.
“Unfortunately, we had to release Dave this morning,” Matvichuk said, addressing the unpopular move head on. “As the head coach, it’s a tough day – a real tough day.
“But my hands are tied with this new veteran rule. That’s how it goes – no one likes it, but it’s a move we had to make. I thanked him for all he has done for this organization and this community and wished him luck.”
Team president and general manager Brent Thiessen echoed those sentiments.
“Dave has done a lot for this organization, and we’re going to have some great memories,” Thiessen said. “I can guarantee you he will be picked up by another team. I just hope he doesn’t come back here and score a lot of goals against us.”
That quip drew a round of laughs and applause from the overflow crowd in the President’s Club at the Events Center.
GOALIE TRADED: The Mavericks traded goalie Josh Unice, who made his professional debut last season, to the Rapid City Rush and signed goalie Ben Meisner, who finished last season with Fort Wayne.
No terms of the trade were announced on the ECHL website. That leaves Meisner, former Maverick Mike Clemente and former Denver goaltender John Griggs battling for the starting position. With forward Andrew Courtney returning to the ice soon, that leaves the team with 23 players on the training camp roster.