News flash

December 29, 2005

Forward Mark Smith has announced he’s leaving the Fort Wayne Komets to play for a team in Norway. Smith, the Komets’ second-leading scorer, told coach Greg Puhalski of his decision at practice this morning at McMillen Park Ice Arena. He’s leaving Monday and won’t play for the Komets this weekend.

"It’s just because they came up with a really good offer," Smith said. "You have to take them when they come your way. It is a good chunk of money. You always get paid well over there and it’s tax free. Going to Europe is more my style of game. I’m getting older and my dream of playing in the NHL is not very good. That’s where you ‘re going to make the most of your money."

Smith said he twice turned down European offers this season. The Komets tried to talk him out of it, but Smith had already made his decision.

"It’s not about the money (here) or anybody," he said. "I’ve been having a hard time sleeping the past couple of days because this is a big decision. Players come and go all the time. I hate to do it because we’re just starting to become a great team. I can’t stress enough that it’s not about anybody on the team. They gave me all the respect. It’s not that I’m not happy here. This is just too good a deal to pass up."

Smith is signed for the rest of this season and has a guaranteed contract for next season in Norway. The news is so fresh that he couldn’t immediately recall the name of the city where he would be playing.

"One man’s loss is another man’s opportunity I guess," Komets coach Greg Puhalski said. "We have some extra forwards around here. We’ll see what they have. He wants to play in Europe and there’s no sense whining about it. We’ll go with what we have and do what we have to do."

Komets General Manager David Franke said the team will continue looking for players, though he was shocked at Smith’s move.

"There was nothing we could say or do that was going to change his mind," Franke said. "For the short-term we’ll go with what we’ve got, and we’ll look for a replacement. I don’t know if that will happen or when, but we’ll be looking.

"It’s disappointing because we had made some moves, and I think we had the team turned around and headed in the right direction," Franke said. "Now this comes along and we have to re-tool again."

The worst news for the Komets might be the fact that Smith is not a veteran, and the Komets have already have the maximum of seven that they can play in each game. Franke said there’s a possibility the team will sign an eighth veteran if necessary.

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19 Responses to “News flash”

  1. Laurie Says:

    I just read that on the Komets official site. I don’t want to believe it! I don’t even know what to say… our best scorer, and he’s leaving. For EUROPE.

    We’ll miss you, Smithy!!

  2. Jason Says:

    Does’nt a contract mean anything anymore…I know, I know he probably had an out clause; but why sign with a north american hockey club when you want to finish your career in Europe?????

  3. bruce Says:

    thats gonna hurt the club!
    they were already in need of
    scorers, cant blame him though, if i could make ten times as much doing the same job i would tell my boss goodbye also!!!

  4. Mark Says:

    where is the loyalty. Kometnation is shocked….

  5. scoops Says:

    Where’s the loyalty? Come on. This is not the NHL where you can make a lifetime’s worth of money in a single season. A player at this level should do what is best for himself and his family. As a person, I’m happy for him. As fan, I’m pissed but will get over it. This is a HUGE blow and we are not going to make up the 35% of offense we just lost with the table scraps we have riding the pine or from people replying if we put an ad in the paper. Hopefully the Franke’s can pull a rabbit out of the hat, soon. Hate to waste the streak we just had.

  6. Mark Says:

    Doesn’t matter that this is the low level of hockey, you sign a contract, a commitment to a team, you should always honor the contract. Loyalty means alot to me.

  7. blake Says:

    What have we been talking about all week on this blog? How hockey isn’t the same any more, and to me this is just another example. Smitty did what he felt he had to do. I hope it works out for him because I would guess he’d have a hard time coming back to play in North America.

    I’m glad I didn’t have to make the decision he did. Of course I’ve worked at the NS for almost 25 years so I’m probably just as bad the other way. LOL.

    I’m guessing something else will happen to balance it out. Look how everyone was screaming a few weeks ago when Dusty and Danny were traded. When you look back at it, it’s pretty amazing how well the Komets have been able to overcome things like this in the past.

  8. Mark Says:

    no doubt would he have trouble coming back to play in NA. He burnt 1 to many bridges.

  9. Burgee Says:

    if the K’s keep playing like they have, this will be easy to overcome. they retooled the team in a short period of time and if they can do that then 1 player isn’t going to be a hard issue to overcome.

    Sorry to see him go but hey “stuff” happens. you can give up and quit or step up to the plate like winners do and overcome.

    as for me and my groupies, we’re 22 tickets strong for new years eve!

    . . . . . . . . . . LET’S GO KOM – ETS

  10. scoops Says:

    In reference to what Mark said…the fan in me can agree with that to a degree. But even still, Mark Smith has to do what is best for Mark Smith and his family. Commitment, honor, and loyalty to the Komets won’t pay the bills when he retires someday.

    Out of curiosity, did he have some kind of an out clause? I mean if that was the case then so be it. That was a risk they took by signing him.

  11. blake Says:

    Not an out clause necessarily. He would have have been able to compete in any other NA league, but he can go to Europe just like Andrew Luciuk could come here from Europe.

    Burgee, if you have 22 groupies, YOU DA MAN! Sadly, I found out too late there are no such thing as newspaper groupies.

  12. Mark Says:

    I still need my tickets..for Saturday…

  13. TB Says:

    I’m sorry to see Smitty go, but now’s the time for the rest of the guys to step up to the plate and prove what they’re really worth. Obviously, Chaulker can’t do it all by himself; he needs help from the others, guys like Luciuk, Goodwin, Drouin and Miller. Frenchy needs to take it up a notch too. Everyone does! With a little extra effort from everyone, life will go on for this team. And I’ll still be there to cheer them on, through thick and thin. Go K’s!!!

  14. me Says:

    Hey, is ther anyplace to get rumor news from the UHL?

  15. Tony E Says:

    Sigh, the Komets are going through what 99% of AA hockey goes through. Frankly they have been lucky the last few years to be so stable.
    “me” you have found the best place. Between this blog and the one run by Justin Cohn you are getting the “rumors” from two great sources.

  16. hockeyfan Says:

    In this league, contracts do not mean much anymore. If teams can trade and waive players who have contracts, why should players not be able to break their own contracts? It can’t just be a one way street-management cannot have it both ways.

  17. top shelf Says:

    You’re right – in this league contracts don’t mean anything For management or the player. Guys can get released and guys can leave the team.

    Remember also that the league passed a rule over the summer that if a guy leaves for Europe he cannot come back to the league this year or the next year.

    You might say he burnt one too many bridges but if were to come back 2 seasons from now some team would take him – inlcuding the Komets. He’s just too good a player to say no to.

  18. Mark Says:

    So, contracts mean nothing in the NHL or the NBA or NFL, MLB..The player is binded by that contract. Management has the right to release, trade players to improve thier teams. But the player shouldnt have the same right.

  19. Not winning!!! Says:

    Whether or not it is right he left, the bottom line is he left. What the heck are we gonna do now. We have no scoring threats left on this team. Is Jason Kean ever coming back? Wow, he seems pretty fragile.


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