A familiar face will take over as head coach of the Missouri Mavericks.
John-Scott Dickson, one of the most popular players in team history and an assistant coach last season, was named the third head coach in team history at a packed news conference Thursday afternoon at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center.
He replaces Richard Matvichuk, who resigned at the end of last season to take the head coaching job with the Western Hockey League’s Prince George Cougars, a major junior team in British Columbia
“We are ecstatic to have John-Scott as our new head coach,” said general manager Brent Thiessen, who said the team received more than 100 resumes and narrowed the search down to a handful of candidates that had a vast amount of experience from many different leagues, including the NHL. “As an assistant coach, he was an integral part of our record-breaking 2015-16 season, and as a player, he embodied what it meant to be a Maverick. He always played for the logo on the front of the jersey, and not the name on the back.”
Team owner Lamar Hunt Jr. called the decision to hire Dickson “nearly a no-brainer.”
“When you hire a head coach, you think of steadfastness, character, loyalty, consistency – and John-Scott Dickson has each of those qualities,” Hunt said.
“He was on the trajectory to be a head coach. I can say it was nearly a no-brainer to hire him, even though we had some very talented candidates for the job. He has been a part of the team for many years and has that family-first focus that I believe is integral in our new head coach.”
Dickson made sure he looked like a head coach at the news conference. He got a haircut, had on a new suit and entered the large conference room with his wife Ashley at his side.
“I’m surprised how many people are here on a Thursday afternoon,” quipped Dickson, “there must not be much going on in Independence today.”
Hunt, Thiessen and Dickson all had prepared statements and Dickson was introduced following a video montage of his career in Independence.
It ended with a photo of him on the bench, standing between Matvichuk and his friend, equipment manager Drew Dvorak, who attended the news conference along with trainer Nick Potter, associate coach and director of skill development and player personnel Simon Watson and the Mavericks front office staff.
Being a rookie coach, Dickson is ready to answer all the questions that will come his way.
“I expect questions about my inexperience and being a rookie head coach,” said Dickson, who was a player/coach in Matvichuk’s first season. “And I know there will be people who question my hiring.
“But I can tell everyone that I am going to work hard – as hard as I possibly can – to help this team be successful and to give the best fans in the ECHL their money’s worth every time we skate out onto the ice.
“Are there challenges? You bet! There are going to be ups and downs, but there are ups and downs with veteran coaches, too. I am going to surround myself with the best people we can find – on the bench and on the ice.
“Simon Watson was so important to the team last year and I’m looking forward to working with him again this season. And we want to work with Stevie, (former Mavericks defenseman Matt Stephenson, who helped on game days giving coaches information from the press box).
“And I’ve already started talking to players, agents, scouts and hockey personnel from other teams to start building our team for next season.”
Dickson and Ashley have two children, 3-year-old Harlow and soon to be 2-year-old Welles. They live in Liberty, but are looking for a new home near the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
“Ashley is my rock, she means everything to me and our kids,” said Dickson, who got emotional when talking about his wife and the Orange Army, the loyal group of fans who were well represented at the news conference. “We’re going to do everything we can to make our fans feel like they are part of our Mavericks family.
“And we’re going to win, and we’re going to win the right way. We are going to develop great players – and I believe the development of players and winning go hand in hand.”
Andrew Courtney, Dickson’s longtime friend and former teammate, was at the news conference to offer support.
“I’ve been through a lot with him,” Courtney said. “He’s my buddy. No guys on the team have been through as much as we have and I knew that one day he would be a head coach. I’m so happy it’s with the Mavericks.
“He deserves it, he really does. The guys responded to JSD last season. He and Matti had different styles – not saying one was better than the other – but JSD was all about teaching. I learned so much from him, and I’d played with him four years!
“You couldn’t ask for a better guy, a better coach or a better person to represent the Mavericks on the bench or in the community.”
Dickson, a member of the Mavericks’ All-Time Top 10 Team as voted by the fans, scored 75 goals and added 79 assists in a career that spanned four seasons – 2012 through 2016.
After a disappointing first season in the ECHL, in which the Mavericks missed the playoffs with a 28-35-5-4 record and 65 points, the team vastly improved in Matvichuk’s second year as head coach.
The Mavericks posted a franchise-best 52-15-5 record and 109 points, which was good enough to earn the Brabham Cup, a title given to the team with the best regular season record in the ECHL. It tied the eighth best regular season in ECHL history.
“And John-Scott was a big reason for that success,” Thiessen said. “We heard nothing but good things from our players about all the hard work he did to make the team better.”
Missouri also won 29 home games, which ranks second in ECHL history for a single season. Matvichuk was named the league’s Hockey Executive of the Year and he also claimed the John Brophy Trophy for being the ECHL Coach of the Year.
Scott Hillman was the first coach in team history. He spent five seasons with the Mavericks, leading the team to success in the now defunct Central Hockey League.