After posting a 30-goal effort for the Chicago Wolves during the 2011-12 season, right wing Mark Mancari left fans disappointed when he opted to return to the Buffalo Sabres organization last year. But after inking a two-way deal with the St. Louis Blues this offseason he’s back in Chicago, and hoping to recapture some of the success he enjoyed the first time around.
Welcome back! How does it feel to be in a Wolves sweater again?
“It feels really good. I’m really excited. There’s a lot of comfort here for me. But there’s a new coaching staff compared to last time and a whole new team so it’s been fun so far and I expect it will continue to be.”
After a successful first season in Chicago you chose to return to the Buffalo Sabres organization even though the team made an “aggressive” offer to keep you. What was behind that decision?
“When I first came to Chicago, it was my first time being with a new team. I had spent my pro career until then in the Sabres organization and it was nice to come here and experience Chicago. I really enjoyed it and I always saw myself coming back at some point. A lot of why I left was due to some family things and some comfort in that organization in terms of being able to play in the National Hockey League and get chances at the next level. I really wanted to try and play some games up there again and I felt that Buffalo was a good fit to do that. It just didn’t work out that way.”
You didn’t get to work with John Anderson during your first stint here. What’s your impression of him so far?
“It’s been good with John. His approach to the game is different and that’s very exciting for me as a player. We definitely have a lot to learn until we can all feel comfortable working those systems he’s giving us out on the ice. But we’ve only played two games and it’s been a lot of fun so far and I think all of the guys have been enjoying themselves so far. And of course we’re all aware of John’s history. We all know how long he was here for previously and what he has accomplished. It’s definitely in the back of our heads and we know how lucky we are to have a coach like that who has done so much and had that kind of success.”
He’s a favorite among Chicago Wolves fans for that reason. You’re definitely a favorite too.
“The fans here are so great. Every chance we’ve gotten to do events with the fans or even just to hear them cheering during games, their support is so great. Whether it’s on the ice, or if it’s something we’re doing in the community, they show up for us and that’s something really great about this organization.”
This is your ninth pro season. What are you focused on at this stage?
“Well, like you said, it’s my ninth year and a championship is definitely a huge goal of mine. The other is to be a consistent player and try to get back to being a 30-goal scorer.”
There are a lot of new faces in the locker room this season. What’s your impression of the guys so far?
“I think we have a lot of talent. We have four lines that can play the game and we have two lines that aren’t even playing. We have a lot of talent and I think the organization has done a great job of bringing in good players and bringing a lot of winners here. Once we all get on the same page and build on that chemistry, we’re going to be a really good team.”