After deliberating for several weeks, player/assistant coach Bruce Richardson is leaving the Komets to sign in the Central Hockey League. Komets General Manager David Franke said RIchardson is signing with Wichita, but Richardson declined to confirm which team it is until that team makes the announcement.
``This was the hardest decision I've had to make in my career,'' said Richardson who turned 30 on June 8. ``I know the Frankes made the best offer they could, but the CHL was able to give me just a little bit more. They were really pushing to get me, calling me every day and doing whatever they could to get me to sign. I'm intrigued by the Central league.''
There were several other factors as well. Richardson likes the CHL's 64-game schedule compared to the International Hockey League's 76-game slate. He also said he has concerns about the new IHL which has only six teams. If the former United Hockey League had not experienced such instability this summer, Richardson said it was likely he would have re-signed with the Komets a month ago.
``The Komets knew that was why I was hesitating at the time,'' he said. "I feel bad because they are one of the greatest organizations I have ever worked with, and I'll still say that 10 years from now when I retire.''
Money was a factor, Richardson said.
``When they can pay you $50 or $75 more per week, that adds up over a 25-week season,'' he said. ``When you have a family, that makes a difference.''
Richardson scored 15 goals and 47 poins last year in 57 games while earning 135 penalty minutes. ``We made the best offer to him that we could and obviously they were offering more or whatever,'' Franke said. ``I think he's intrigued that there are only 64 games there compared to 76 in our league. He's taking care of his family and at the end of the day that's the most important thing to a player.''
The Komets have not signed any players for next year, but Franke said the team is getting close to signing a couple of returning players.
``I'm not really concerned,'' he said. ``Last year at this time we didn't even have a coach in place. It's still early. We just have to stay on the phones and keep talking to our drafted players, our players from last year and some new players. It's just a lot of phone work and everyody has to have a lot of patience.''