Sebastien Thinel entered a suite at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena and walked over to a group of former Kansas City Mavericks, including line mate Andrew Courtney, defenseman Jared Lavender and goalkeeper Charlie Effinger, wearing an impish grin.
“Sorry boys, it took a little while out there,” said the Mavericks’ all-time scoring and assist leader, who had just left the ice after a Saturday night pregame ceremony in which his No. 43 jersey became the first number in team history to be retired. “I got inspired.”
Throughout a weekend of visiting with the former Mavericks who were in town for the celebration, Thinel promised he would keep his jersey retirement comments brief.
“You could tell he was enjoying his moment,” said Effinger, who is now a hedge fund manager in New York. “We enjoyed listening to Sebbie. Everything he said came from the heart.”
Thinel was joined on the ice by his wife Ashley, his two sons, Maddx and Jett, and team president and general manager Brent Thiessen, who presented Thinel with a watch and framed No. 43 jersey.
“Sebastien meant so much to his team, this organization and our community,” Thiessen said. “It is such an honor to retire his No. 43 jersey.”
A commemorative banner now hangs from the rafters of the east side of the arena.
Thinel, always a showman, stepped to the microphone and said, “How ‘bout those Chiefs!?!”
Which drew a huge response from the crowd, as the Chiefs had just defeated the Indianapolis Colts to advance to Sunday’s AFC championship game at Arrowhead Stadium against the New England Patriots.
Thinel was on the ballot of nine of the 10 members of a committee that selected the first Mavericks player to have his number retired.
He is the team’s all-time leading scorer, with 378 points in 294 games over four seasons. He also tops the Mavericks in career assists (280) and plus-minus rating (plus-51).
“You can do those things when are with one team for a while, and I was so fortunate to play with the Mavericks for four seasons,” Thinel said. “I think I might have played as long as anyone except Courts (Courtney, who now drives for UPS in the metro area).
“Gosh, when I think back to the great Mavericks players – Jeff Christian, Lewie (Carlyle Lewis), Charlie (Effinger) – and there are so many more, it makes you realize how special this really is.”
A four-year captain for the Mavericks, Thinel was named the Central Hockey League Most Valuable Player for the 2012-13 season, his third with the Mavericks. He was also a two-time CHL scoring champion while playing in Independence.
The St. Jerome, Quebec, native owns many Mavericks scoring records and is at or near the top of nearly every scoring mark in the team’s nine-year history. He has claimed all of the top four assist totals for a single season and owns both of the top two scoring campaigns in team history with 96 points in 2012-13 and 94 points in 2013-14.
In the all-time rankings, Thinel is second in goals scored as a Maverick with 98, second in games played with 294 and fourth in points per game with 1.29. Thinel was a CHL All-Star and earned All-CHL distinction in two of his four seasons with the team.
“We had to buy the boys Royals baseball hats when we got here,” said Thinel, whose parents, and his twin brother, Marc, also came for the ceremony, “ because Maddx and Jett caught baseball fever when we lived here. Now they both play baseball and hockey.”
Thinel now works at a Montreal masonry business, where he oversees approximately 250 workers.
“I tried to play in a senior league back in Montreal and it just wasn’t the same. I felt like it kept me away from Ashley and the boys,” he said. “It’s just not the same.”
He said the memories of his four-year stay in Independence are too many to mention.
“What I will always remember were the great fans, all the friends we made, my teammates, Hilly (first Mavericks coach Scott Hillman, who talked Thinel into signing with the team) and this great organization. This has been a weekend my family and I will never forget.”