There is still three months until the puck drops for the second season of Mavericks hockey. Here's the latest mailbag to help cope with the sans hockey days. As always, a big thank you to all the fans who submitted questions.
What was your favorite moment from the Mavericks first season? Janie, Overland Park
JR: That's a tough question, only because there were so many great moments. If I had to pick one, I would have to choose the home opener. The arena was sold out, the fans were loud all night, and the Mavericks won in a shootout. The energy was palpable from the opening faceoff to the final horn. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
Carlyle Lewis is a beast. I still love watching that video of him knocking out the player from Arizona last season. It got me thinking, what player would you want to drop the gloves with the least? Jeff, Independence
JR: It depends on which league you are asking about. As far as the CHL goes, Carlyle would be at the top of the list, followed by Colt King from the Rapid City Rush (who put a pretty good whooping on Carlyle this past season). If you are referring to the current NHL, Danny Carcillo scares the bejeezus out of me. If you told me that he ripped someone's face off during a scrum, and then wore said face as a mask Hannibal Lecter style, I would probably believe you.
What do you expect from the Mavericks in this upcoming season? Marty, Belton
JR: The Mavericks proved that they can play with anyone in the league last year. I'm expecting big things from them this upcoming season. Before last season, I predicted that the Mavericks would win 35 games, and they ended up winning 31. With the recent expansion of the CHL, the competition could be even tougher. I thinking they'll win somewhere between 37 and 40 games next season.
Why hasn't there been any player signings recently? With the season still three months away, these announcements are all I have. Grrrrrrrr!! Catherine, Lee's Summit
JR: Okay Catherine, take a deep breath and calm down. I know it feels like it's been months since the last announcements have been made, but that is a good thing. The Mavericks staff is actually way ahead of other teams in the league in regards to roster size, which is why they aren't in any rush to get more deals announced. I think that this is a huge advantage for Coach Scott Hillman and his staff, because now they have more time to review film on potential players and also bring in more players for tryouts. I think that as we get closer and closer to the Free Agent Showcase in the middle of August, you'll see the roster start to fill out.
JR: I agree that Festa and Effinger were quite the duo last season, and are probably the main reason that the Mavericks made the playoffs. However, there are 18 teams in the CHL now, which means there are 18 starting job available. Effinger also played a few games in the AHL last season, and he may get a shot with a team at that level. I'm sure that there is interest from both the Mavericks and Effinger to return to the team, but I still think that it's unlikely.
What is the impact of the injury to Bill Vandermeer? Josh, Columbia
JR: The news of Vandermeer's injury was devastating. I know how frustrated he was for most of last season when he was injured, and I'm sure that this has been even tougher on him. We all saw how dynamic of a player he is when healthy, so I'm sure that the Mavericks coaching staff will be very careful when setting a return date for Bill. He is vital to the success of the Mavericks for this upcoming season.
What do you think of the CHL/IHL merger? Is this good or bad for the Mavericks? Tonya, KCMO
JR: I think that, overall, it is a great thing. The league has expanded to 18 teams, which means the fans will get to see some different competition this season, and I'm sure new rivalries will be made. I'm not a big fan of the new playoff format that was established this week (16 of the 18 teams will now make the playoffs), but I think that over time, all the wrinkles will get ironed out.
The Mavericks had some players who really threw their bodies around last season. Was there one hit that stood out for you above the rest? Eric, Lee's Summit
JR: There are a few that come to mind, but I would have to say that the hit that Karl Sellan put on Les Reaney in the Conference Semifinals last season was the best. Reaney had become public enemy number one to Mavericks fans, and that arena went wild when Sellan knocked him silly.
What is the status of Jeff Christian? I would love to see him play at least one more year with the Mavericks? Justin, Independence
JR: Jeff and I spoke a few times towards the end of last season regarding his future with the team. He had said several times that he wanted to keep playing as long as he could. However, his first priority will always be his family. I, too, would like to see Christian return to the team, and I think that it remains a possibility. That might be the reason that the team hasn't filled its four allotted veteran spots. There have been some rumors that he may look to find a coaching job as well. Only time will tell........
If you were remaking the movie "The Hangover" and could only use players from the Mavericks roster last season, who would you cast as Doug, Stu, Allen, and Phil? I would pick Carlyle (Lewis) for the role of Phil. I could totally see him stealing a cop car and driving it down the sidewalk in Vegas. Thoughts? Adam, Greenwood
JR: I love the Mavericks fans!!!
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