After 12 years, Kansas City Mavericks have a new president and he has 'hit the ground running'
The electricity coming from the corner office inside the Kansas City Mavericks' suite in Cable Dahmer Arena is palpable.
For 12 years, the office was manned by Brent Thiessen, the only president and general manager in franchise history. But he and the Mavericks parted ways late last season as the team struggled during a COVID-19-plagued campaign and failed to make the playoffs.
Mike Cukyne, a former general manager at KCTV-5 and the Kansas City Chiefs vice president of content and digital operations the past four years, is the team's new president and he has hit the ground running.
He's an old school guy who happens to be a wizard when it comes to social media, and he believes the Mavericks will once again be the talk of Eastern Jackson County when the 2021-22 begins Oct. 22 at Iowa.
"We have to broaden our fan base, and I believe we will do it this upcoming season," said Cukyne, who served as KCTV-5's general manager from 2015 to 2017. "We want Friday and Saturday nights to be sold out, rowdy events where our fans are having as much fan as our players. Our guys know they feed off our crowds, and we're going to get this arena rocking."
Cukyne made it clear that he will take care of the business side of the ECHL franchise, while head coach Tad O'Had will gain a new responsibility after being named the team's general manager by team owner Lamar Hunt Jr.
"Look, I have so much respect for Brent, and I hate it that I was the coach when he and the Mavericks parted ways," O'Had said. "But I am really enjoying working with Mike.
"He's a class act, just like Brent. And while Mr. Hunt will have the final say on all decisions, I am working on the hockey side and Mike is working on the business side. And it gets me excited when he tells me all the plans he has to make our games events – even bigger and better than they have been in the past.
"And that will have an effect on our guys. They really feed off our fans, which made last season so disappointing because (due to COVID-19 protocols) our guys could not go out into the community and meet our fans, but that is going to change this upcoming season."
Changes Mavericks' new president wants to bring to the team
Cukyne glows as he talks about changes that are upcoming for the Mavericks.
"Look, we're not trying to reinvent the wheel, just make it better," Cukyne said. "Our players are going to form a bond with our fans again this season, and that is something that was missing last season (because of ECHL mandates).
"Brent always did a great job bringing in guys who bought into their community and we're going to bring a nucleus of those guys back from last season. Our guys are going to be playing for the name on the front of their jersey, not the name on the back, and we're going to create a special bond with our fans – through social media, our guys getting out in the community and through charitable events.”
Cukyne is eager to get the first season under his helm underway.
"And believe me, when our fans see what we're going to be doing at games they are going to be blown away,” he said. “We want them to come back and we're going to work hard to make them want to come back.
"We've had a great response to our season tickets and our sponsorship packages are up. Tad is going to put a great team on the ice, and we're going to give our fans something special during our player introductions and intermissions between periods."