FORT WAYNE – Were the ECHL playoffs to begin today, the Komets would have the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They are in eighth place with 46 points, thanks to their 22-19-2 record.
Luckily for them, it’s only the all-star break; they will resume play Saturday at Evansville.
General manager David Franke said he has plenty of concerns about his Komets, who are 10-12-2 at Memorial Coliseum, have scored first in only 19 games and rank 22nd on the power play (13.7 percent) and 16th on the penalty kill (80.5 percent) out of the ECHL’s 23 teams.
But he’s also cognizant that help will eventually be on the way, in the return of injured players Colin Chaulk, the team captain who has missed 25 straight games with a foot infection, and Thomas Beauregard, who has 15 goals and 21 points in 35 games but has been out with an upper-body ailment.
To get those guys back would help us offensively, said Franke, who believes they will return to the lineup in February. And defensively, as a team, we need to improve.
But Franke has spent the all-star break investigating other ways to improve, including looking at free agents – the Komets’ 2010 playoff MVP, Matt Syroczynski, has been brought in for a tryout – and discussing with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks and American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals whether help can be sent for more extended periods of time.
We need to look to improve our special-teams play, and if that means that we have to make a move or two to help that out, especially on the power play, that’s something we have to look at, Franke said. Looking forward to the second half of the season, personnel-wise, there won’t be a lot of changes. There will be some movement, Norfolk to Fort Wayne.
So that means there will be tweaks, not overhauls, because management believes in the lineup put together in the offseason. The answers, management believes, lie in the locker room.
It’s just we need to do something internally better than what we do right now, Franke said.
The X factor could be players returning from Europe after seasons there are completed. The Komets have until Feb. 5 to sign players coming back from overseas.
There are a lot of things we’re trying to do to tweak the team, Franke said.
Notes: Pink the Rink Weekend will be Feb. 1 and 2 at the Coliseum. The Komets will wear special jerseys to support breast-cancer awareness. The jerseys will be auctioned off, and pucks will be sold by player wives, to benefit the Vera Bradley Foundation. More than $15,000 was raised last year. Kevin Bertram, Kelly Perrault, Ron Leef, Martin Burgers, John Hilworth, Steve Fletcher, Carey Lucyk, Adam Lewis and Chad Dameworth are expected to play in the Fort Wayne vs. Toledo Legends game before the Komets’ game at Toledo on Feb. 17. Former Komets goalie Doug Teskey will play for Toledo.
When: Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
Radio: 1190 AM, 92.3 FM