Forget the polarizing name change and the AHL scuttlebutt, the Kansas City Mavericks have another significant change to handle as they prepare for the 2017-18 campaign: no Andrew Courtney. For the first time in the better part of a decade, the Mavericks will take to the ice without #27 leading the charge. Head Coach John-Scott Dickson has been working to build his team for the upcoming season, and without Courtney to lead this team on and off the ice, the look and feel, as well as the face of this franchise, will be completely different.
The good thing is that over the last couple of seasons, that transition and the proverbial torch had already begun to be passed to the next generation of Mavericks stars. On Thursday, the Mavericks announced their first player signing of the off-season, and it was the most important name to check off the list: Rocco Carzo.
“Obviously, it was a no-brainer to return to Kansas City. I love the city, the fans, and the organization. It truly has become a second home for me.”
– Rocco Carzo
After being acquired to complete a trade deadline deal in the Spring of 2015, Carzo has proven to be arguably the best two-way forward that this team and fan base have seen. “RC4” as he’s known to the Orange Army, has endeared himself to the Mavericks faithful by displaying so many of the qualities that the man behind the bench, Dickson, exhibited that turned him into a Mavericks legend. He has been a part of a number of clutch goals, whether it be finding twine himself or using his laser precision passing abilities. His commitment to two-way hockey is on display every night, as he back-checks with just as much grit and ferocity as his offensive prowess. His toughness is not only unparalleled, lying in front of near triple digit howitzer blasts from the point, but also contagious (see Correale, Dan).
On the ice, he is so easy to root for because fans like to root for the guys who play the game the right way. He works hard and that permeates not only to his linemates but also to the entire bench as so often his teammates are up pounding their fists against the boards to pay homage to another act of fortitude and tenacity. Off the ice, Carzo has had the luxury of learning from one of the best in the business, none other than Courtney himself. He was able to watch first-hand how to connect with fans, handle the local media, and represent the organization to potential sponsors. There has been no one better at those three things than Courtney, and Carzo has been a close second.
“As for being a leader, I learned from the best in Courts. He was the epitome of a true leader. He cared about the game and winning more than anyone. He was willing to block a shot, take a hit, and always came through in the clutch. He made it easy for us to follow in his footsteps. He showed everyone what it was like to be a true professional. Off the ice, he is one of the best guys I’ve ever met. He has one of the biggest hearts, and I’m truly privileged to have met him. He is great in the community, and truly a Maverick great. I’m very blessed to call him a teammate and a lifelong friend.”
– Carzo on andrew courtney’s legacy
While the announcement doesn’t mention anything in regards to captaincy for Carzo, he has to be the leader in the clubhouse to don that “C” on his chest this season. He has proven with every shift on the ice, and every opportunity off the ice that not only can he lead this team, but he deserves to and has earned that honor. Playing alongside the greatest Maverick in team history has certainly helped that. Make no mistake though, Carzo is carving out his own legacy, and that legacy continues to grow by the day. The sun has set on the days of Andrew Courtney. This is now Rocco Carzo’s team.