Every Missouri Mavericks fan knows that forward Simon Watson was named the Central Hockey League’s Man of the Year.

Every Missouri Mavericks fan knows that forward Simon Watson was named the Central Hockey League’s Man of the Year.

Saturday night, at a season-ending party hosted by the Mavericks Booster Club, Watson earned a new nickname – the Mayor of the Independence Events Center.

It fits, because Watson is an elder statesman who means as much to his team off the ice as he does when he slaps the puck into the back of the net.

“It’s been a very emotional weekend,” said Watson, who was a fan favorite at Friday night’s Goodbye Party at the Events Center. “I just wish there was a way we could tell each and every fan what they mean to us.

“We met a lot of them Friday night and had a great time at the Booster Club party because the mood was light and everyone was having a good time.

“And we’re going to have a lot more good times. What Brent and Scott have done with this team in two years is amazing, and it’s just going to keep getting better.”

Brent Thiessen, the Mavericks general manager and president, and coach Scott Hillman have been burning the midnight oil since the season came to an end last Thursday, following a 2-1 loss to Colorado in the Turner Conference semifinals.

“My phone started ringing about an hour after the loss to Colorado,” Hillman said referring to players and agents who wanted to talk to him about the 2010-11 version of the team.

“No one is happy to see the season come to an end, but now is the time to start thinking about next year.”

And Watson can’t wait for what’s in store.

“We wanted the season to keep going because we really felt like we had a legitimate chance to go all the way,” Watson said. “But when I think back to last year, and where we are this year – well, there is no comparison.

“We want to keep climbing the ladder.”

Watson and his teammates were at the Events Center Monday afternoon for exit interviews with Hillman.

“You can tell Scott is excited about next year, and so are the guys. We’re going to lose some players – that is just a fact of life in the minor leagues.

“But I think a lot more guys are going to be back next season than made the team this year following our first season. I didn’t think I could ever enjoy a season more than I did my first year with the Mavericks, but this one was even more special. It was amazing.

“That’s why I’m so excited about next year. It’s going to just keep getting better and better.”