Brent Thiessen chuckles when recounting a recent conversation he had with a Missouri Mavericks fan.

Brent Thiessen chuckles when recounting a recent conversation he had with a Missouri Mavericks fan.

“People always seem to think that since the season is over, we just shut the office, go out and play golf and have fun,” said Thiessen, the president and general manager of the Central Hockey League team that has called the Independence Events Center its home the past three years.

“If anything, this is our busiest time of year. We just finished all the post-season player physicals, booked flights so the players could get back to their hometowns, checked on the apartments, shut off the cable (television) service we provide and, oh yeah, start building for next season by signing and re-signing players.”

He laughed following the last comment as it is the most important aspect following a season where his Mavericks made a deep run into the playoffs, as eventual league champion Fort Wayne needed seven games to defeat Missouri in the Turner Conference championship.

The first signee could be special as the Mavericks inked CHL enforcer Colt King to a deal that has everyone in the Mavericks front office giddy.

“We’ve been after Colt for quite a period of time,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said. “He’s a difference maker, a tough guy who will make an impact.”

Thiessen agrees with that assessment.

“We’re really excited about getting Colt,” Thiessen said. “Fans will recognize what he means to the team the first time he steps on the ice. He’s one of the most feared guys in the league. Our fans are going to love him.”

And they should love the return of many familiar faces from last year’s team.

“For the first time in three years, the solid core – the nucleus of last year’s team – will return this season. There are some players who are seeking other options, but if the core of players want to return, we want to sign them.”

For the second year in a row, the CHL is losing its defending champion as Fort Wayne is joining league power Evansville in the East Coast Hockey League. The franchise in Dayton is also expected to fold.

“When a team leaves the CHL, its players become available, and it goes without saying that there is a lot of talent on Evansville and Fort Wayne,” Thiessen said. “We’re in a bit of a unique situation this year because we just need to fill some roles and not make a complete overhaul on our roster.

“But, to some extent, that places more pressure on Scott and the team because we have won more games and advanced farther in the playoffs each year, so our fans have become accustomed to growth and success.

“We need to find the right players – and by saying the right players, I mean players who will buy into our philosophy about becoming a part of the community while getting the job done on the ice. And sometimes, that can be difficult.”

It seems like light-years since Hillman’s first-year Mavericks needed some key wins the last week of the first season to reach a mini-playoff round to advance to more postseason action.

Last year, the Mavericks won the first round, but fell in the second. And this past season, the Mavericks made it all the way to the conference championship series.

“We have questions,” Thiessen said. “But there is no doubt that we are a better team overall than we were the first two years. But this year, we have to find someone to replace (forward) Ed McGrane (who will play in France next season). We don’t know what (goaltender) Charlie (Effinger) is going to do next season. But I can promise our fans that we will do everything possible to sign Charlie and make him part of a very competitive team, and we’re going to find someone to replace Ed McGrane.”

The Mavericks are also looking at their broadcast situation as they aired select games last season on WHB 810 AM and the rest over an Internet feed.

“We are exploring all our options this year,” Thiessen said. “We had a wonderful relationship with 810 and we were able to reach fans who could not hear our broadcasts the first two years (when the team was on KCWJ 1030 AM). We got a lot of positive feedback about our mobile app that allowed our fans to listen to our games on their iPhone, iPad and Droid. We want to do what we believe will be in the best interest of our fans.”

The Mavericks recently signed Hillman to a two-year contract extension and the league added a team in Denver.

“Scott deserves his new contract,” Thiessen said. “His team has done better in each of his three years and we came close to making it to the championship series this year.

“It’s a concern when the defending champion leaves the league two years in a row, but we’re excited about the new team in Denver and the future of this league.”

Thiessen and members of the Mavericks staff are now attending the CHL’s 17th annual Spring Conference in Las Vegas.

“When we get back, I’m sure we’ll have some more topics to discus,” Thiessen said.