The story of John-Scott Dickson is one that should be forever held in the highest regard in the lore of Missouri Mavericks hockey. Realistically, his story is one that people can translate into all aspects of life, because the bedrock of his rise from a relative unknown when he signed with the Mavericks back in 2011 to the third head coach in team history is one built on hard work, diligence, respect, and relentlessness.
Sometimes overlooked due to the accomplishments of Sebastien Thinel and Andrew Courtney, the playing career of Dickson was one that puts him among the franchise greats, just on statistics alone. He currently ranks third in games played, goals, assists, and points. So it’s safe to say that Dickson is the third best player that has ever pulled on a Mavericks sweater, and this is an organization that has seen many incredible players step foot on that ice at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Throw all of those numbers out the window, and think about what you remember from Dickson as a player. Sure, he’s scored some big goals and set up others with tape to tape passing skills, but I’ll bet a shiny nickel that most of you aren’t thinking about that. What comes to mind when thinking about Dickson the player, is how there was never any debate as to whether he left everything that he had out on the ice every night. He was always one of the first players on the ice, and always the last player off for warmups and practices. He would throw his body in front of any slapshot, whether it was shot with a pool noodle or a cannon off a Navy destroyer. He would go to war in the corners or in front of the opposing net because every inch mattered.
After games, he would emerge from the locker room battered and bruised from another day at the office, and always take time to answer every question from the media, sign autographs, and meet with fans for a few minutes before going to get treatment and be pieced back together like a modern-day, Canadian, badass Humpty Dumpty, only to repeat it all the next time out.
This was a player that earned every ounce of respect that has been showered upon him over the last half decade. This was a player that embodied the Orange Army. This was a player that would do anything in his power, with no regard to his own personal health and well-being, the make sure that his brothers in orange next to him every night had every opportunity to succeed. It was said many times during his introductory press conference that he has always cared more about the emblem on the front of the sweater, rather than the name on the back.
That’s almost correct.
Dickson doesn’t just care about the emblem on the front of the sweater more, that is all that he cares about. His dedication to this organization, its players, and this community is what has set him apart throughout his tenure as a Maverick, and what will carry his legacy through the test of time. That is why I think he will be a great head coach.
As owner Lamar Hunt, Jr. mentioned at the press conference, there were over 100 applicants for this job, from all levels of professional hockey (yes, including the NHL). General Manager Brent Thiessen had the opportunity to go with another big name. He had the chance to go with a re-tread from another organization that has coached at this level before. Instead, he took a chance on a guy that he knows for a fact will work just as hard behind closed doors as he did on the ice. He bet on a guy that has the respect of players because he’s earned it, and makes those players earn his respect in return.
We have seen two very different types of coaches in Missouri, one that was about as much as a “players’ coach” as you can get, and the other not so much. Dickson should fall right in that big cushy middle part of the spectrum, exactly where you want your coach to be, a place where your coach can relate and communicate to his players, but also can drive them, motivate them, and scold them when necessary.
The reactions to Dickson’s hire have been mostly positive. There have been a few doubters. The premise of the arguments from those who do not necessarily approve of this decision are completely and totally valid. There are a lot of people who think that Dickson is not ready for a job of this magnitude, that he doesn’t have enough experience. It’s tough to argue against that. He has one full season behind the bench as an Assistant Coach, and another as a player/assistant. That’s not exactly an extensive coaching resume for one of the best jobs in minor professional hockey.
I don’t blame those who are skeptical. After all, they are just looking out for this team’s best interests. However, in the revolving door that is minor league hockey, Dickson has stuck. He has never left. He has made not only this organization his home, but also this community. He has been here for the best of times, but also the worst. He has worked his hind parts off since day one, and wrestled successes away from those not willing to put in the work, not willing to go the extra mile. So my question to the doubters is this: Why would you expect any different now that he’s behind the bench? Look, I’m not sitting here guaranteeing that Dickson is the next Jeff Blashill. There’s a chance that he could flame out. There’s a chance that this couldn’t work. But, what if it does? This is an organization that is starved for a championship. If John-Scott Dickson is the coach that can bring that Kelly Cup to Independence, it would only make it that much sweeter.
Based on what he has proven and worked for since setting foot in Missouri, he’s earned that opportunity. He has earned the opporunity to be the head coach of the Missouri Mavericks.