Bill Althaus: O'Had gets extra time to build first Mavericks team
As he makes the drive to Cable Dahmer Arena every morning, Tad O’Had can’t help but smile.
The new head coach and director of hockey operations for the Kansas City Mavericks is living a dream despite the difficult conditions of COVID-19 and the pandemic, which have delayed the ECHL season until at least Dec. 4 instead of its normal early October starting date.
“I tell you what,” the personable O’Had said Tuesday morning from his office inside the arena, “every time I drive into the area, see that ‘This Is Mavs Country’ sign and our beautiful building I just get so excited and pumped up being here with the Mavericks.
“I get here about 9 (a.m.) and chat with (assistant coach) Kohl Schultz and (trainer) Nick Potter and the day just flies by. I can’t tell you how many calls we make, Zoom conferences we’re in on and emails we send. It’s different because of the pandemic, but it’s still hockey and we all love hockey – Mavericks hockey!”
Schultz, who took over as interim coach last season when the team parted ways with John-Scott Dickson, shares O’Had’s vision and passion for the Mavericks.
“We’re in the office every day, communicating all the time with each other and the players we hope to sign,” Schultz said. “It’s different, that’s for sure, because when you look at a December start, this is more like June than September, and guys are still looking for the big AHL (American Hockey League) or European contracts.
“You kind of feel like ‘Come on, we need to get going,’ when in essence we have a lot of time to put this team together. And Coach and I are on the same page, and I love the players we’ve signed so far.”
Those players include familiar names like speedy C.J. Eick and Bryan Lemos and newcomers like Anthony Florentino and Lane Scheidl.
“We have a great combination of speed, size and scoring ability,” Schultz added. “I think our fans are going to like what they see out on the ice this season.”
O’Had readily agreed.
“We can take a page from what the NFL, MLB and NBA are all doing in regards to keeping their players safe,” O’Had said, “and it’s so exciting on Tuesday when the league announces updated rosters around the ECHL. A lot of high-end talent has been signed and there is a lot of high-end talent that we’re still going after.
“I think we’re building a team that has all the elements to be successful, and when our guys skate out on the ice in December, I hope our fans are as excited and Kohl, Brent (Thiessen, president and general manager) and I will be.”
– Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-350-6333. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC