John-Scott Dickson – who was relieved of his duties as Kansas City Mavericks head coach and director of hockey operations Thursday afternoon after spending nine years with the ECHL organization – was able to find a glimmer of light following his dismissal.
“If there is a silver lining with all of this, now I can take my daughter Harlow to the Daddy-Daughter Dance Friday night at her elementary school,” Dickson said late Thursday afternoon. “She will be thrilled because she thought Daddy was going to be coaching his team Friday.”
He paused for a moment and added, “Daddy thought he was going to be coaching his team Friday, too.
“But things happen. I have had an amazing time with this organization and I wish them the best. The Mavericks can still make the playoffs – I truly believe that – and I hope they do, too.”
Assistant coach Kohl Schulz has been named the Mavericks’ interim head coach and president and general manager Brent Thiessen said a search is underway for Dickson’s replacement.
“I want to thank John-Scott for everything that he has done for our organization as a player and coach,” Thiessen said. “I wish him nothing but the best moving forward. This is now about getting our team back to where it needs to be.
“This is a tough day, a sad day, but from day one, this organization has been about winning, putting a good product on the ice for our fans and reaching the playoffs. We have not come close to reaching those expectations this season, and unfortunately that resulted in today’s move.”
The team has been in a recent tailspin, and sits at the bottom of the Mountain Division. The Mavericks are 18-22-2-1 with just 39 points, six points behind sixth-place Tulsa (45) and 12 points behind Rapid City for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division.
The team is coming off a 6-1 loss to Kalamazoo at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena Tuesday, and following that loss Dickson said, “We have guys who have played in the AHL who just stood around tonight. You can tell they think they’re too good to be in this league and tonight is the end result.
“We have guys who just stand around and let the opposition go straight to the net. That’s not fair to (goalie Nick) Schneider. Some of our players are just standing around and don’t care about back checking. Yeah, it’s frustrating.”
That’s the type of frustration that comes from losing seven of the last eight games and going 3-6-0-1 in the last 10.
“Our last loss, 6-1 to Kalamazoo, is just not acceptable,” Thiessen said. “We’ve had some bad losses at home this season and our fans deserve so much more than what this team has provided.
“You saw the effort in that game – the effort simply wasn’t there. What we saw was unacceptable. John-Scott has been a big part of this team’s success for many years, but for some reason the players this season simply weren’t responding to him, and we have to make a change while there is still a chance of making a run toward a playoff berth.”
Dickson was in his fourth season as the head coach, compiling a 121-113-14-11 record through Tuesday’s game and reaching the playoffs last season after missing postseason action in the 2017-18 and 2016-17 campaigns.
“We were all so excited after last season, and on paper we looked like a talented team this season,” Dickson said, “But like we have talked about so many times, the game is not played on paper. This morning, during my last video session with the team, I called some guys out.
“I don’t know, maybe this will fire some guys up, and they can start making a push to the playoffs. The talent is there and I hope they have a lot of success the rest of the season.
“This is a business, and I’m not a sour grapes guy. This was a business decision. Brent has been great to me and my family and we’ll see what the future brings.”
Dickson played for the Mavericks from 2011 to 2015, compiling 75 goals and 79 assists in 220 games, before becoming an assistant coach under Richard Matvichuk in 2015-16 and then taking over as the team’s head coach in 2016-17.
“This one’s on us, the players – bottom line,” Mavericks captain Rocco Carzo said when he heard about the move to replace Dickson. “We haven’t been playing the way we need to be – not even close – and our effort as a group has been abysmal.
“So this one is on us! John-Scott truly cared about each and every one of us in our locker room, not only as players but as human beings,” the veteran forward added. “He truly brought so much to the hockey community in Kansas City over the years.
“This season hasn’t gone the way any of us wanted and it begins with the players and our effort. With all that being said, we understand that this is a results-based business and we understand the move, but this is on us. We’re the ones who are going to have to make changes and turn this season around.
“We are not out of the playoffs by any means and I sure hope this wakes us up and lights a fire under all of us.”
Dickson and his wife Ashley, who is expecting their third child in early February, live in Lee’s Summit with Harlow and son Welles.
“John-Scott will have nothing to worry about when it comes to Ashley’s delivery because he will still have insurance through the team,” Thiessen said.
“It’s time for John-Scott to go home and be with his family. We sincerely want to thank him for what he has meant to this organization for so many years.”