You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Ice Chips

  • Komets sign defenseman James Martin
    The Komets have signed defenseman James Martin, who spent last season with the Alaska Aces and won the ECHL championship.
  • Komets sign forward Pistilli
    The Komets have signed forward Matthew Pistilli and reached an agreement with Konstantin Shafranov to be an assistant coach for a second straight season.
  • Former Komet Uhrich dies at 60
    Rick Uhrich, a right wing who played for the Komets in 1974-75, died at 60, according to the Leader-Post, a newspaper in Saskatchewan.
Advertisement
File | The Journal Gazette

Would playoffs equal success?

I've given this question much consideration this week and wondered what you thought ...

If the Komets were to make the playoffs, would that make this season a success regardless of what happens after that?

I know the inclination would be to say no, but the more I think about it, I'm not entirely sure.

Many of us were impressed with the amount of talent they put together in the offseason. It seemed to be a particular upgrade over what they had last season when they were affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks.

I was on record as saying I thought the Komets had too many CHL-type players and I was worried about the chemistry that would come with so many new players. I predicted a slow start, a good finish and that they would make it to the conference finals. Not bad predictions, in hindsight, depending how the next few weeks play out.

But never did I imagine they would make 12 trades -- click here to read about the latest ones -- and struggle as much as they have in terms of consistency (especially within games) and at home.

I realize, in the minor leagues, we tend to think it's easier to have a quick turnaround from one season to the next. There's some truth in that, since all teams have so much player turnover; it's not like the NHL where you are going in with at least half your team being the same every single year. In the ECHL, the rosters change especially fast because players get called up or go to Europe, and because affiliations change.

But let's remember where the Komets were a year ago. They were 27-28-2 and among the worst teams. Now, they are 26-20-11 and in eighth place in the conference, and they still have a shot of finishing in fifth. They have maybe the best player in the league, Brandon Marino, who could be the first Komet to lead his league in scoring in about 23 years. They've had one of the top rookies, Scott Fleming, and a goalie, Andrey Makarov, who might just make it to The Show.

They've done it with a new coach and with only three players remaining from last season, when they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The entire organizational philosophy is different from last season, when they were reliant on some aging and familiar players and an affiliation that didn't pay off. The systems are different, the leadership is different.

That's a lot of change and, considering all that, I'm not so sure that we wouldn't be able to view it as a successful season if they make the playoffs.

I'm not naive as to what many of you will say, though. It has been one of the craziest seasons ever. Players defecting, the Mickey Lang-trade ordeal (though getting Aaron Clarke wasn't bad, if not too late), the terrible performances at Memorial Coliseum, a style of play that isn't as fast or exciting as was promised.

But things change. The Komets have been much better after they reshaped the locker room. I think they will make the playoffs, if they can overcome all the injuries. I excuse Gary Graham some mistakes; it's only his second season as a head coach and, yes, it's OK to let someone learn.

If they make the playoffs, while I wouldn't say it was a great season, depending on what happens in the playoffs, I might be willing to say it was a successful one -- simply because of where they were at the end of last year.

  • Just to clarify something on the Komets' acquisition of Aaron Clarke. What happened was this: Toledo sent Clarke to Orlando for future considerations, and then Orlando immediately sent him to Fort Wayne to complete the earlier Mickey Lang trade. So, now, Orlando owes Toledo future considerations for Clarke. Who doesn't want Orlando and Fort Wayne to meet in the playoffs?
  • I'm going to do an NCAA Tournament bracket for my readers and, hopefully, some of the Komets. I hope you can participate. It's free, but I will have some Komet-related prizes. Click here to join. The group is Ice Chips readers. The password is: wichitainsix. Let me know if it doesn't work for some reason, but you can sign up now and do the bracket next week.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

Advertisement