Tad O’Had was introduced as the fourth head coach in the history of the Kansas City Mavericks via social media this afternoon.
He replaces John-Scott Dickson, who was relieved of his coaching duties last season. Assistant coach Kohl Schultz, who took over the ECHL team as interim head coach, has been instrumental in helping O’Had become familiar with his new players, the new coach said.
"I couldn’t be any more excited," said O’Had, who has been with the Florida Everblades the past seven seasons, serving as associate head coach the past four seasons. "Everyone in the ECHL knows about and respects the Mavericks organization. My meetings with (president and general manager) Brent Thiessen and (owner) Lamar Hunt (Jr.) couldn’t have gone any better."
Thiessen believes his team got the perfect coach to help the Mavericks reach playoff success for seasons to come.
"He has great character and I’m proud to introduce him to the community and to represent our franchise," Thiessen said. "I’m thrilled to bring in such a widely regarded top candidate to bring our team back to the playoffs and be a perennial contender in the ECHL. I am excited for our fans to meet him and I know it won't take long for them to get excited for what’s ahead."
O’Had knows the importance of making the Mavericks a playoff contender in 2020-21.
"I know that no one with the organization was happy with the way the team performed last year," O’Had said, and we’re going to do all we can to make the Mavericks one of the premier teams in the ECHL."
O’Had played a large role in the Everblades’ defense, position-specific skills, recruiting, penalty kill and strength and conditioning efforts. He served as an assistant coach in his first three seasons with the organization, based in Estero, Florida.
"His experience as an assistant coach and associate head coach for the past four seasons was something that stuck out immediately," Thiessen said. "His record while there and working with a successful franchise made him someone we obviously sought out and wanted to speak with."
"These are different times we are living in right now, and it certainly became apparent during my interview process," O’Had said by phone, referring to coronavirus limitations. "Brent did come down to Florida and we had a productive meeting, and we have been talking by phone.
"I have so much respect for him. Coach Dickson and I have enjoyed talking with Kohl, who has been so helpful in helping me become familiar with the players on our roster. We’ll make a decision on the assistant coach position once I get to Kansas City."
One player O’Had is familiar with, from seeing him play with the Everblades during the 2012-13 season, is retired team captain Rocco Carzo, who hung up his skates after this season when the Mavericks finished 24-32-4-1 in the coronavirus-shortened schedule.
"I knew Rocco many, many years ago and am so sorry that he has decided to retire because he’s my kind of player," O’Had said. "He’s the type of player the Mavericks are all about – the kind of player who gets it done on the ice and then makes an impact in the community.
"And that is the type of player we want on the team this upcoming season. I want to help create a great culture with the Mavericks and we are going to do that by bringing in players who work hard on the ice and in our community.
"We are going to be a tough team, an aggressive team, a fast team that plays an uptempo game and a team of character. That is important to Brent and Mr. Hunt and that is important to me."
Before joining the Everblades, O’Had served as head coach and general manager of the Florida Jr. Blades, operating in that role for three seasons. Under O’Had’s direction, the Jr. Blades made two appearances at USA Hockey Nationals and captured a pair of regular season league titles. He guided the Jr. Blades to a 112-19-8 record in his tenure.
"I think our fans will immediately love him and he is a guy that will expect our players to play hard and fast," Thiessen said. "There won't be other options. He is more than prepared and his work ethic and ability to relate to players is remarkable."
O’Had is grateful to get a chance to be a head coach.
"I just want to thank the Mavericks for this tremendous opportunity and I want to thank (Florida president and general manager) Craig Brush for the opportunities I received in Florida. They helped me prepare for my first job as a head coach in the ECHL."
A native of Yakima, Wash., O’Had has a rich hockey background. He played hockey for Millbrook Prep School in Upstate New York for three years. After graduating from Millbrook, O’Had went on to play junior hockey in the North American Hockey League and Ontario Provincial Hockey League with the Capital Centre Pride and the Port Huron Clippers.
O’Had attended Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, where he was named a captain for three out of his four years at the school. He became one of the founders of BlueStreak Sports Training, a sports training facility in Stamford, Connecticut.
He was also the co-founder of Hybrid Hockey, a recruitment service that helps players gain the attention of college coaches. In 2009, he worked in Russia with the Olympic development program where he co-founded several training programs.