The Missouri Mavericks’ search for a new coach was classified as nationwide, with general manager Brent Thiessen saying the list of qualified applicants topped 100 names. A handful of the candidates flew into Kansas City, a chance to pitch themselves as the best fit for the job.
But in the end, the Mavericks’ solution came from within their own locker room.
The Mavericks hired former player and assistant coach John-Scott Dickson as the third coach in franchise history, the team announced at a news conference Thursday. Dickson, who played for the Mavericks for four seasons, will also serve as director of hockey operations.
“I felt like after we did the round of interviews with the finalists, it was really a very easy decision,” Mavericks owner Lamar Hunt Jr. said. “We had resumes from every level of hockey you can think of — NHL and things like that. But I think what really kept John-Scott in front of us was his history with the team and the trajectory that he was coming into his own and could handle being a head coach.”
As a player, Dickson totaled 75 goals and 79 assists across four seasons. The transition to a spot behind the bench started before his playing career was finished.
Dickson, 32, served in two roles — player and assistant coach — during the 2014-15 season, his final year as a skater. He maintained the assistant coaching duties last year under coach Richard Matvichuk, who earlier this month left the franchise to coach the Prince George Cougars, a Canadian junior hockey team.
“I did not think (the opportunity) would come this quickly, but I’ve been preparing the last year and a half like I was the head coach,” Dickson said. “I’m not saying I was, but you have to have that preparation, and I tried to bring that to the rink every day.
“It came quick to some people, I guess, but I’m ready for the challenge.”
Hunt and Thiessen raved about Dickson’s interview for the position, during which he made player-coach communication a focal point. Many of those players are his former teammates, offering him a unique perspective of the locker room.
“I know what is expected of the Maverick organization. I’ve been here for five years,” Dickson said. “I think the modern-day athlete has changed. It’s not a yell-and-scream environment anymore. You want to make sure you’re communicating and being up front and honest with players.”
On the ice, Dickson described his preferred style of play as aggressive in all three zones — offensive, neutral and defensive pressure.
The Mavericks won the Brabham Cup last season after finishing with the best ECHL regular-season record at 52-15-5. They won 29 home games, the second-most in ECHL history. But they lost in the second round of the playoffs.
“I think the expectations is with John-Scott that we will be just as competitive again this year,” Hunt said. “We want to compete for the Kelly Cup, and we think we have the right guy to help us do that.”