Archive for July, 2006

Retired numbers

July 28, 2006

On another post a debate began about retired numbers, and the possibility of Colin Chaulk someday having his number 91 retired. The old rule was you had to play 10 years and they made exceptions for Steve Fletcher who played seven and one UHL game and for Reggie Primeau at eight years. I think they should stick with 10 years, which means Guy Dupuis would be a possibility and that is all until someone reaches that plateau again.

The Komets’ current retired numbers:

5 Terry Pembroke; 6 Lionel Repka; 11 Len Thornson; 12 Reggie Primeau; 16 Eddie Long 18 Robbie Laird; 26 Colin Chin; 30 Robbie Irons; 77 Steve Fletcher. There is also 40 for Bob Chase, 58 for Ken Ullyot and 59 for Colin Lister.

To me, that should be it for a very long time. I’m a purist in that I think you have to go back to playing at least 10 years, and that means Guy Dupuis would be the last one to come up for consideration after this season. Retired numbers should be for exceptional players, and it’s supposed to be very hard to achieve.

That’s also a reason why the Komets re-started their Hall of Fame, to be able to include everyone else who has made sizeable contributions to the franchise.

What do you think?

As another debate, if the Komets had to name their five greatest players of all-time like is being done now in the Major League Baseball promotion, which five would you pick? That ought to keep you busy all weekend. LOL

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Talking to coach

July 27, 2006

This is going to run tomorrow.

Komets coach Pat Bingham has been on the job for three weeks and
he’s spent most of that on the phone, talking to players from last year and
potential players. The News-Sentinel talked with Bingham about his plans and
hopes for the team.

Blake Sebring: All the players I talk to seem to be very excited
after talking to you.

Pat Bingham: With the turning over of a new leaf here,
opportunity does present itself and that’s always exciting for players. It’s
great to hear that guys are excited about signing and coming back with great
attitudes and energy. In turn that gets me excited. Maybe they’ve enjoyed our
talks on the telephone. I’ve encouraged them to look into my background and
talk to others who have played for me because that’s the best recruiting tool I
have.

BS: How are you going about putting together a team?

PB: Is there an exact science? You make your calls. You just have
to be very diligent. We’re in the business of people so you have to use your
network of people you are familiar with and try to get a cross section of
references on guys. You can’t overspend, but the key component is the quality
of person. Talent is obviously a major component but the keys are character and
desire and what are they playing for? We’re hearing all the right answers so
far.

BS: What are you doing to find some toughness?

PB:: To me I define toughness different than somebody else might.
It’s a mental approach and a will, having a stronger will than their opponents.
Sometimes that means fighting and sometimes it means taking a cheap shot an not
responding such as going to the scoring area and taking a beating to score a
goal. Again, it comes back to the kind of guys we’re going after, strong-willed
guys who want to play a team-first concept. If we do our homework and get the
right type of guys, I think we’ll be a tough team to play against.

BS: But what is your feeling about fighters?

PB: We’re looking at everybody. We’re out there trying to round
out a hockey club. We want every element and component so we can compete with
anybody. Ideally, you want to put together a team that is skilled enough to
skate with the skill teams and also have that element of toughness and
character and girt that you can beat those types of teams, too. When you have
enough, that sometimes it results in fights and sometimes in not retaliating.
There are a lot more times in a game when it’s not the right time and you have
to walk away. We want to be tough enough to play with those teams that play
with that element. We’re trying to strike a balance and leave no stone
unturned.

BS: How about having the players help with recruiting?

PG: We’re trying to strike a balance and leaving no stone
unturned. Who knows better than the players who they would want to play with
and not against? They know the guys they hate playing against, and usually
those are the kind of guys you’d like on your team. I always ask players about
that and often I end up hearing the same names and we check those players out.

BS: How many rookies are you looking to sign?

PB: I think we want to have an extremely competitive camp. We
intend to make people earn their jobs. I believe in competition within a team and
within an organization is crucial to your success. We won’t grossly
over-recruit our team. You have to play four every night, and maybe more than
four make the team. That kind competition is healthy. If I was a general
manager of a pro sports team I’d always be after the best player available, and
I wouldn’t care if they were rookies or not..

BS: What about affiliations with American Hockey League teams?

PB: I look at it this way: The league is going through a
transformation right now. It has lost some teams, and I think 10 teams is a
great number right now. The rivalries are going to be very intense because
we’re going to see each other multiple times and you are looking for every edge
you can get. The affiliations come into play here in getting the younger guys
at the lower salaries. I think it’s important because of the cap that is now
going to be very closely monitored. I think that you go out and get your
veterans, guys who have played at the higher levels before who are looking to
settle down. Then you’ve got your four rookies, and then there’s the guys in
between. You can’t make everybody rich because you can’t exceed the cap. So I
say give the money to the older guys, the mainstays, the pillars in the locker
room. They aren’t going anywhere. In order for the young players to be
motivated because they aren’t making the most money, they have to have
something else, too, and maybe that’s looking for a chance to move up. If they
want to further their careers, we have to open our doors wide open. You can
strike a balance of older and young guys who want to see how far they can take
it. If anything it creates a lot of excitement in that locker room.

BS: But what about the chance of getting burned by AHL teams
taking your best players, possibly for the season?

PB: When guys are making top dollar, it’s like a player wanting
to have his cake and eat it too. I don’t think a player should negotiate for
top dollar and then want to go up during the year. If you are wanting to go to
the AHL, you shouldn’t be looking for the big money here because that’s at the
next level for you. You can have an opportunity but take a little less money to
fit into the salary cap and the structure of this team. The individual will be
rewarded. I am a proponent of it. I think the league would be wise to start
going into this direction a little bit. It’s going to enable us to get the best
rookies if they see a light at the end of the tunnel.

We’re allowed to have seven veterans in our league, and those are
seven guys who aren’t going anywhere. They have no desire to go anywhere, they
want to win a title here. There are going to be first-year guys who want to cut
their teeth and maybe go to the AHL, and then there are going to be half a
dozen guys or so who are hungry and looking to see how far they can go.

Fort
  Wayne is such a great place to play, but we don’t want
it to just be a great place for the old dogs to go to pasture. We want to have
the best young guys coming in the league because there is great opportunity.
It’s a work in progress. It’s just like any championship team at any level, you
have a great blend of older and younger.

I work for the Frankes and the Komets first and foremost. It’s my
job to make sure the team we’re putting together is going to be intact for the
most part of the entire season, but when you lose a player for a weekend to the
AHL, there’s a buzz in the room and it provides somebody an opportunity to step
up and play a larger role. It’s all about opportunities. I now it stings when
they take your best ones, but again that’s why we’re talking about prioritizing
the older key veteran guys and then sprinkling the lineup with some younger
guys. We’ll still be fine if those guys get called up.

BS: What are your thoughts about trying to get a player/assistant
coach?

PB: I’ve had one before, and if the right guy comes along I would
be open to it. It’s definitely something that’s on our minds.

BS: Does the salary of a player-assistant still count against the
salary cap?

PB: Their entire salary goes against the cap.

BS: How about players the Komets acquired in the dispersal draft?

PB: We’ve got the rights to several players form last year’s
roster as well as guys that we claimed or drafted, and we’ve talked to nearly
all of them. We’re going through the process here of due diligence and
character references before we sign players and going down that road too far.
We’re looking at character issues, the quality of the person that we’re talking
about and how they get along on the team which is perhaps the greatest team game
sport in all sports. We’re really assessing and trying to get an overall view.

BS: How do you feel about where things stand overall so far?

PB: I’m one of these nervous guys who never thinks he’s got it
figured out. If you are picturing a blue print we have a few aspects in place.
Everybody that I’ve talked to really seems gung ho, and Fort Wayne is an easy place to be gung ho about. Everybody
we call, nobody is lukewarm, everybody is red hot to come to Fort Wayne.

BS: How many people are you looking to bring to training camp?

PB: Thirty is probably a pretty safe number, but if you keep
calling and the fax machine keeps working you are always going to get surprised
near the end by somebody new who might show up. That’s when camp gets a little
bit better. Everybody is trying to impress everybody at camp, including me,
too. You get one chance to make a good impression, and I want to make sure it’s
the best, most organized it can possibly be.

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1-0 Joe goes

July 27, 2006

I just got off the phone with Joe Franke who has been let go by the Komets after a 20-year affiliation as the team’s equipment manager. Komets General Manager David Franke said both sides decided to move in different directions, and Joe Franke said that was exactly what each side decided.

“I have other things going on and, he wants to cut costs and go with a younger guy,” Joe Franke said. "I’m not upset at all. The only thing I’m upset with, and they know this, is that they waited this long to tell me.”

Franke, 46, said he’s not retiring from hockey and has had 12 calls over the past three days. He needs one more year for 30 in the business. During the warmer months he also runs his own lawn care service.

“I may be out of the game for a year if I don’t like what’s happening, but that’s fine,” he said. "I’ll find something to do. I think I represented the team and was a true Komet. I was always there with they needed me.”

Franke is best known for being the oldest player ever to play for the Komets at age 42 on Dec. 16, 2002, when he came off the bench to beat Elmira 4-3 in a shootout. He came into the game in the third period after Tom Lawson was called up and Pokey Reddick was injured. After dressing as an emergency back-up more than 30 times during his career, it was Franke’s first actual game experience. The highlights were shown on ESPN, and now more than 20,000 people claim they were at the game even though the official attendance was 6,497.

Franke has the best winning percentage but worst goals against average of any goalie in Komets’ history (10.86), not to mention the best T-shirt, “1-0 Joe.”

There might be even more updates to come today.

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Domber and friends

July 27, 2006

Just got off the phone with defenseman Mike Dombkiewicz who said he was dropping his contact off at the Fed-Ex as we were speaking. He said he’s taking a bit of a contract cut because of the salary cap, but he’s completely happy to be returning to Fort Wayne.

“I had more money at other places, but I want to win a championship and Fort Wayne is the place to be,” he said. “Hopefully I’ve found a home. I love playing in Fort Wayne.”

Dombkiewicz said he’ll be skating with the Buffalo Sabres in preseason workouts starting next week, and then he might have an opportunity to go to an unidentified American Hockey League training camp before reporting to Fort Wayne. He almost signed a two-way contract to play in the Central Hockey League but wanted to return to Fort Wayne.

“With the new salary cap, a lot of guys are going to take a hit with it,” he said. "It’s a real eye-opener, but we want to win a championship. Sometimes you have to make some sacrifices and most of us who are going to be there are going to, but we want to win a title. Below the AHL, in my opinion Fort Wayne is the best place to play in any league. It’s a great hockey town, you get to play in front of 7,000 fans every night and you we well taken care of around town.”

That’s also the message he’s using to try to help recruit some new rookies. Though he declined to name them, Dombkiewicz predicted the two players would make the all-rookie team if they signed in Fort Wayne. All he would say is that they are former teammates of his from the University of New Brunswick.

"Everybody wants them,” he said. "They are two pretty good friends of mine. They were both captains on their team and they were captains on their school team. Hopefully our friendship is what helps bring them to Fort Wayne. I’ll just keep talking to them, and I’m going to do anything I can to bring as many good players to Fort Wayne as I can.”

As for taking less money?

“I would have liked to make more money in Fort Wayne like was going to get other places, but you have to give and take somewhat and I know David (Franke) is in a tough position. That’s what it’s all about when it comes to being a good person and a good leader for a club, and I’m willing to do that to win a championship.”

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a HUGE update

July 26, 2006

Here’s the deal on everybody I could think of:

So far, the Komets have signed Guy Dupuis, goaltender Kevin St. Pierre, forward David Hukalo and defenseman Kevin Hanson. General Manager David Franke said the Komets are also in strong negotiations with defenseman Mike Dombkiewicz and forward Jonathan Goodwin. Franke thinks there’s a good chance both players could be signed by the end of the week.

“I really like the Komets’ offer,’’ Goodwin said. “I’ve been in contact with a few teams, and I have to call a few coaches back. What the Komets offered me is very fair, and I like Pat Bingham.’’

Kelly Miller has not signed yet in part because he’d take up one of the Komets’ seven veteran spots. Other players might look sexier statistically than Miller, who was a third-liner for most of last season. Miller brings a ton of intangibles, and desperately wants to play in Fort Wayne again.

“We would love to have him, but the whole deal is whether we take up a veteran spot with him,’’ Franke said. “We’ll have to wait and see.’’

As for the other players from last year, Franke said the Komets are waiting to see how defenseman A.J. Bozoian recovers from hernia and minor knee surgery. It’s 50-50, Franke said, whether forward Andrew Luciuk will return. The Komets want to see the results of his back surgery. There’s also an issue with amount of salary.

“I’ve been talking to a lot of teams, I guess, so it’s kind of up in the air right now,’’ Luciuk said. “Some of the teams are closer to home.’’

Luciuk played in Fort Wayne last year while his wife remained in Prince George, British Columbia.

The Komets made a qualifying offer to Ryan Jorde, but Franke thinks it’s doubtful the defenseman will sign. The two sides have not talked recently. Forward Darren Rumble has reportedly retired, forward David Carpentier signed with New Mexico of the Central Hockey League and defenseman Mark Lindsay signed with Youngstown of the CHL. Despite repeated calls, Franke said the Komets have not heard back from forward Jamie Milam.

As for the players the Komets picked in the United Hockey League’s expansion drafts, the team is talking to defenseman Mario Larocque and will know more early in August, forward Drew Omicioli is expected to sign in and defenseman Brad MacMillan signed with Columbia in the East Coast Hockey League. Franke said it’s 50-50 whether the Komets sign forward Jim Duhart or Matt Elich, though they continue to talk to both as the Komets are also doing with goaltender Kevin Reiter.

Franke also said the Komets are looking into possible American Hockey League affiliations with Bridgeport and Hershey as an incentive for younger players to sign and possibly move up.

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A little update

July 26, 2006

So far today I have found out that Brent Rumble has decided to retire, and David Carpentier will be joining Rob Guinn with New Mexico of the Central Hockey League. A.J. Bozoian just had minor surgery on his knee for a slight meniscus tear, but he’s already playing golf.

More later

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Guy signs

July 26, 2006

The Komets are releasing this morning that defenseman Guy Dupuis has signed a one-year deal for his 10th season with the team.

"I think it’s great,” Dupuis. “It’s pretty exciting for our family to be able to stay another year here. I know that there are a lot of changes from last year to this year. There’s some excitement but also some big holes to fill. It’s going to be tough to replace some guys like Colin Chaulk, P.C. Drouin and Troy Neumeier. All we can hope for is we have more depth on our team than last year. If we can get guys overall that are a bit better we can have three good lines. I’m very hopeful.”

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Starting over

July 25, 2006

Well, I’m back. Please hold your applause (kidding). Since there is absolutely nothing going on as of this moment, and I’m tired of reading all the sniping, I thought I’d start out with posting the rules again.

Here they are:

1. I’ll be making them up as I go. I’d much prefer to answer questions from you than spout off all the time. I’m sure you’d much prefer that as well.

2. I will update it as much as I can, but I’m not going to promise every day. It would help if there were plenty of questions to answer. Hint, hint.

3. I’m going to talk about all aspects of hockey, and not just limit it to the Komets.

4. I don’t pretend to be “The expert,’’ but I do think I know whom to ask when there are questions. I’ll let them be the experts as much as possible. I’m much more comfortable being the conduit.

5. I know this is probably taboo and naive, but I’d prefer if posters use their names, at least their first names. I like to know who I’m talking to, especially since you know who I am and I have to stand up to the things I write/say. I’m asking the courtesy of you doing the same. STILL WAITING ON THIS ONE.

6. Please give me suggestions on what you’d like to see here. This is for you, after all. I have plenty of other things that need doing to spend time mouthing off, and I’m guessing no one wants to read me preach.

7. If you have any Komets history questions, I’ll do my best to answer them, and I think we can have a lot of fun with those. I might even start some kind of trivia contest later if you are interested.

8. Quit calling each other names. You all have the same primary interest, for gosh sakes.

9. If you haven’t gathered yet, I’ll win all arguments because I’ll cheat. Suddenly your posts will magically disappear if I feel it’s necessary.

10. I make all the rules and they can change whenever I feel like it. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!!! Or if someone bribes me with 1 million dollars!

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Frenchy update

July 12, 2006

He told me today that he met again with the Frankes and he was encouraged. “They told me what they want from me, and I told them what I need from them,” he said. “Now we’re talking numbers.”

A decision will probably be made by Tuesday.

In other news, Hit, what’s the deal? I leave you in charge and you take down the whole system! 97, hours Hit Somebody forced the system to crash with his numbers game!

Oh, well, I’m going back to counting 99 bottles of beer on the bar. Blake

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On Frenchy/vacation

July 10, 2006

He said nothing was decided today and he’s supposed to meet with the Frankes again on Wednesday. There’s some obvious thawing going on, and as he said, “We’re still talking.” It could go either way.

All right, now I’m officially on vacation, but I’ll be checking in. Hit, Skate, Tony, JM, JR, Mark and Chuckitt. You guys are in charge with help from Bob and Greg. Make sure things maintain the proper standard. I was going to say you guys were in control, but we all know that’s not true. If you guys don’t keep things semi-calm, I’ll call in reinforcements from Ashley and Shutterbug, and none of you want that to happen, right Tony?

Oh Lord, what am I doing, giving Hit Somebody and Jungle Monkey any kind of power? Shows how desperate I am for a vacation.

Have fun. I plan on it.

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