Center Colin Chaulk, one of the most accomplished players in Komets history, and perhaps its greatest leader, won't be back next season.
"This has been a very difficult decision," said Chaulk, who has guided the Komets to four playoff championships in his seven seasons with the team. "Both our kids were born here, and we've got so many friends here. Making the decision to move is hard, for sure. Very hard. And it's a little bit scary."
So why is Chaulk, for the second time, moving on to play for HC Alleghe in Italy? He dreams of one day being a full-time coach and it will be easier for him to do so by moving his offseason home to the hockey hotbed of Toronto, teach there when he can, and then play in the shortened European season.
"It wasn't working out here the way I'd hoped," said Chaulk, who played for the Komets, was hockey director at Canlan Ice Sports, and unable to devote full attention to either.
"I wasn't able to play for the Komets and work for Canlan with their schedule and the demands of that job. What I want to do when I'm done playing is coach and teach, train kids and that sort of thing, and the market has changed here. Being in Toronto, I can build for my career after hockey, and continue to play (in Italy)."
While some of the Komets' players have expressed concerns about the team's move into the new IHL-Central Hockey League coalition, which will allow fewer veteran players and necessitate lower salaries, Chaulk, 33, said the changing landscape of North American hockey didn't figure greatly into his decision.
"It didn't have a lot to do with the Komets, really," Chaulk said. "I'm trying to get ready for life after hockey and I don't want to be in the same position I'm in now when I'm 35 or 36, needing to play the game for a job. As much as I'd love to keep doing what I'm doing with the Komets until I'm 50, it's not possible.
"It's true, AA hockey is changing and the salaries are coming down, teams folding, and it's a little scary at my age. But I still have good seasons left here. The opportunity to go overseas came up. This is a second chance we have to experience that and if we don't do it now, we'll never do it again."
Chaulk was selected by his teammates as the Komets' MVP last season, the fourth time he's received the honor. He was also selected as the IHL's top defensive forward; it was fourth time he took the league-wide honor with the Komets in the IHL or United Hockey League.
Chaulk had a career-best 27 goals and 85 points in 71 games last season, when the Komets won a third straight IHL championship.
He has played for Alleghe before -- in 2006-07, when he tallied 13 goals and 33 points in 32 games -- but that one-year departure was ignited by a contract dispute with the Komets.
"We didn't want to leave then," said Chaulk, who added the Komets' ownership has done everything it possibly could to keep him this time.
The allure of teaching in Toronto, and preparing for his future, was too much.
"I can't even count how many teams are there," he said. "If I can use those five or six months in the offseason to market myself and get myself ready for when hockey (playing) is finished, and be home where my family is, too, it seems like this will be a good opportunity."
I'll have more on this later in the day.