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Chaulk returns with new duties

Komets captain to be assistant; 3 others also sign


– Colin Chaulk wants to get into coaching when he’s done playing.

He’ll get to do some of both this upcoming season with the Komets.

Fort Wayne announced the signing of four players on Tuesday, including Chaulk as a player-assistant coach.

“It’s great that I’m able to do it while I’m still playing,” Chaulk said. “I can be an extra hand for (Komets coach) Al (Sims), a sounding board or someone that can bounce things off him and he can off me.

“At the same time, my No. 1 job is to play well, produce, play hard and compete. From there I can help out other areas where needed.”

The Komets also officially welcomed back center Brett Smith and right wing Kaleigh Schrock. Rookie defenseman Kyle Atkins was also added to the roster.

“We wanted to build the core of the hockey club and then start branching off the core,” Komets general manager David Franke said. “I think we have some of the core put together with Chaulk, Smith and Schrock.”

Chaulk, 35, returns for his 10th year with the Komets. A five-time team MVP, he’ll also assume the duties that Gary Graham had with the club, Franke said, including video, scouting and helping with practices. Graham moved on to the Southern Professional Hockey League, where he is the head coach at Pensacola.

“It’s going to be good for (Chaulk) and his learning experience,” Franke said. “It was vitally important that we bring Colin back because of the fact we are moving into a new league, and we need his presence on the ice and in the locker room and off the ice making this transition to the ECHL. It’s a big signing for us. It’s a good way to start the building of the club.”

Chalk has played with five championships squads during his Fort Wayne career (2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012) and ranks in the top 10 of several Komets regular season statistics. He had 22 goals and 61 points in 60 games last season.

“I feel like I had a great second half and playoffs,” Chaulk said. “I’m excited to pick up from where I left off.”

Atkins, 23, played four seasons with Holy Cross. He had nine goals, 15 points last season.

“He’s an offensive-minded defenseman,” Franke said. “He’s a big kid (6-foot-3, 208 pounds), has a big body, and we’ll have some more of those type of kids coming in.”

Franke said Smith is “a Komet through and through.”

“After one year here, he’s really shown why he’s been a captain elsewhere,” Franke said. “The way he played hurt in the playoffs was remarkable, what a gutsy performance.”

Schrock returns for his fourth year with the Komets.

“I don’t think it ever gets old, signing a contract and wearing the Fort Wayne uniform. Just being from here, is a great feeling,” Schrock said. “I’m just excited to be back, especially with the new league we’re going to be involved with.”

Franke said a decision on goaltender Nick Boucher could be coming soon.

“He has a hip that may need surgery on it,” Franke said. “If that’s the case, he would be out until probably November, late November. We’re going to make a final decision on that within the next 24 to 48 hours. If Nick can’t go at the start and can come back later, that’s great, but we’re going to have to get ourselves this summer two quality goaltenders, and if Nick decides he still wants to play and is able to play and ready to get back into it, we’ll address that at that time.”

The Komets also announced two home exhibition games against Evansville on Oct. 6 and 7.

“We’re playing those guys a lot this year,” Franke said. “We might as start it in training camp.”