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Tailing the Komets

David Franke said...

The Komets are interested in two or three San Francisco players, but so are several teams. He declined to name the players.

As for Scott Fleming getting called up, Franke said he's happy for Fleming, but it puts the Komets in a bind.

``We're open to every team in the AHL just like everyone else is. To not have an affiliation with these people and they have other players in the league...  It's great for the player but it stings for us. They have players in the ECHL they could call up, but we really have no recourse. We just have to persevere without him and see if we can hook up with some other people.''

The Komets do not even receive a development fee when an AHL team signs one of their players.

Once again, ECHL fans are not the priority of the ECHL. Serving the AHL is.


Tue, 01/28/2014 - 3:01pm

Cry me a river David.... Yourself and Graham put us into this bind by only having 4 current players who can score regularly... Now, one is gone...

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 3:19pm

Am I suppose to feel badly for our GM? He didn't protect his trade concerning Lang, the leading goal scorer in the league.  The last 2 years in the ECHL has been a total disaster. I have been a 25 year STH. I can't believe I am going to say this but I honestly believe I am done. Too much money for a joke. I actually dread going to most games anymore because I have seen the same thing over and over and over. Boring, gutless hockey is not worth the price for season tickets.  I felt it would  be a disaster when our GM hired our coach. It has turned out worse then even I imagined.

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 6:02pm

Everyone knew it "would sting for us" to not have an AHL affilication, so why did we elect to go that route?  Did we overestimate our worth to an AHL team and try to hardball a negotiation?

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 7:25pm

Sorry to hear that for the team during a challenging schedule. Hope other trades work out for the Komets!

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 8:38pm

Observing from the far north in Kalamazoo while looking for information from around the league regarding the San Francisco ceasing of operations.  I ran into this article and as a fan from another city in the league I had to look twice with the comments from David Franke.  

The same Worcester Sharks called up the K-Wings leading scorer Yanni Gourde three weeks ago.  Gourde currently has 11 points in 9 games for the Sharks.  The K-Wings best defensemen Mike Matzack has been called up to the AHL Adirondack Phantoms since late December.  Ray Kaunisto has also played in 10 games this year between AHL Syracuse and Lake Erie.  Not included are the players that traveled between the affiliated teams also.

My point being that these three players are not affiliated players on contracts playing in the ECHL.  They are ECHL contracted players that have been called up based on performence.  The K-Wings AHL affilates are Chicago and Utica.  The K-Wings are sitting 3 points out of first in the North Division and here in town you don't hear the K-Wings managment or coaching staff make one excuse about players being called up to non affiliated teams.  Nick Bootland stresses it is life in the ECHL during mid winter and it isn't time for excuses.  

Making comments that you are not thrilled a player was called up because that team has AHL contracted players in the ECHL is a joke.  It's the ECHL and they knew what they were getting themselves into.  Don't let the media twist fool you fans.

Blake Sebring
Tue, 01/28/2014 - 8:59pm

Sure, because heaven forbid the fans who are paying the bills in the ECHL be the priority of the league instead of a league that does NOTHING for these fans.

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 9:43pm

I've been reading for a long time, but haven't posted. However, I'm just confused reading this and feel that I need some answers.

Blake, why do the Komets not receive a development fee when a player is called up? Because we're not affiliated? Do affiliated teams receive this fee and we don't?

And I guess I don't understand what the ECHL is supposed to do for the ECHL fans. Allow us to not send the player when there's a callup because it "puts us in a bind"? Because we don't have an affiliation, we should be able to say no? How is it the responsibility of the league to put an entertaining team on our ice?

Thank you!

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 10:24pm

Imo, it's the Frankes jobs to cater to their ECHL Komets fans...

Great post MOV...

Blake Sebring
Tue, 01/28/2014 - 11:45pm

Unlike the old IHL, the ECHL does not receive development fees. The AHL won't pay them. The ECHL just serves, and I mean that literally, at the pleasure of the AHL.

You can totally send a player to the AHL, but then how about the AHL team assigning a player to the ECHL team in replacement? Why can't the two leagues work together? This relationship is totally one-sided.

And, no, you can't and shouldn't say no to a call-up. The union and the players' agents would go nuts. But why does it all have to be to the benefit of the AHL and not in any way to the ECHL?Aren't they both supposedly in the businesss of developing players? Why can't that be beneficial to both sides?

The priority of the ECHL is simply to serve the AHL, and not to serve its fans. If it came down to helping an ECHL member club or the AHL, the ECHL member club would get screwed. Another example: They call it an all-star game when it's nothing like an all-star game. It's totally about the AHL as a prospects game. That has nothing to do with ECHL fans at all.

If a player is not at practice because he got called up, no one is allowed to say anything about it on the record until the AHL team has announced it. Remember last year when Delauriers got called up the night of a FW game? The Komets were prohibited from saying he was gone until the Ducks announced it, and they didn't announce it until he showed up for warm-ups up there. Don't you think FW fans who were paying good money to attend that night's game deserved to know if he was going to play here? Well, they didn't because the NHL team didn't announce anything. To me, that's an insult to ECHL fans.

The No. 1 complaint I hear from casual fans is that they don't recognize any of the players. This is a big reason why.

Blake Sebring
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 12:01am

I know, I"m really old-fashioned in that I think Fort Wayne fans should be the priority for the Komets, Wings fans for Kalamazoo and Walleye fans for Toledo instead of serving the AHL first. Let the AHL do its own dirty work. I think you are paying enough to be that priority, and I've never understood why FW fans should pay good money to make a team in another league the priority. They shouldn't have to take a backseat to anyone. Ever.

If the Komets took a chance on a player like Scott Fleming or Jace Coyle or John Muse when no other AHL club would, shouldn't they, and more importantly their fans, get some compensation if that player moves up? Is that so out of line?

Maybe I'm just nuts.

Anne Argast
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 7:05am

So, Blake, what is the alternative? Doesn't seem like the FW fan has much choice if they want to see local, pro, hockey.

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 8:23am

Or you could teach the fans what we do down here in Evansville, you cheer for the logo on the front not the name on the back. This is minor league hockey, callups, trades, send downs happen. I often tell fans that the very first lesson I learned in hockey was that it will break your heart as a fan, and that was from following an NHL team. No fan should be coming in solely because of one player, so the whole "oh a paying fan has the right to know if x and such player is playing" is nonsense. You come to see your team, period. 

If the Komets are suffering from player moves and aren't feeling in a partnership with the AHL/NHL it's because they're doing it wrong, not because the league is treating the teams and the fans badly. After a disasterous introductory season in the ECHL, the IceMen made positive changes that have turned the team around. They found a seasoned proven ECHL coach who understands how the league and how affiliations work. They have a positive relationship with their affiliated teams and have received quality players down. They've had players *ask* to come down here to play when they were getting ice time in Springfield. There have also been non affiliated players called up. The team is deep enough to handle player movement, whether it's via callups, injuries or players leaving for Europe. Five different IceMen have scored 10 or more goals this season. A formet Komet, Tristan King has scored 8 goals for us since he came to us in December. 

The Komets are struggling, but it has nothing to do with the league or the AHL.

This Might Help
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 9:08am

Jon Mirasty is looking for work, we should get him again and let him be a real player not just a side show. 

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 9:23am

As I stated in the first post, nobody forced the Franke family to join the ECHL and play by there rules.  They knew what they were getting themselves into.  The Central League they bolted from is still alive and the SPHL is slowly moving north...

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 10:11am


I agree with what you are saying. Why should the local fans not be the primary interest in ANY hockey organization. After all, if the fans don't like what they are seeing and paying for, they will go away. I cannot understand why the AHL doesn't see this or more importantly, care about this. They DO need AA hockey teams to help develop their players and a little more good will wouldn't hurt.

The Frankes are very good businessmen and have been in thhe hockey business for a long time. It makes my wonder how much of this back and forth player movement and lack of compensation that goes along with it that they really knew about or understood? They certainly would not want their fans to feel that ownership doesn't care what kind of product they put on the ice? I am getting the feeling that they felt like the ECHL was their only avenue left after the CHL experiment and the lack of stability in that league. All I know, is this doesn't seem to be very attractive IMO.

Blake Sebring
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 10:54am

Here's a couple hypothetical examples of what I'm talking about. Suppose ECHL Team A spends a month recruiting a player to return from Europe and finally convinces him to sign. Then he has three good games and gets signed by an AHL team. Was it worth it for the ECHL team? No, because the ECHL team did all the work and has nothing to show for it.

Suppose an ECHL team really does its homework and scouts a player that no one knows about, someone who has the potential to be the next big star in the sport. They sign him and he plays for five games and really shows what he can do so of course he gets called up or signed ot an NHL deal. What does the ECHL team get? Nothing but regret.

Yes, MOVR, the Frankes knew what they were getting into. Does that make the system right for everyone else? Does that mean the league can't change and make improvements? You can't convince me that Kalamazoo fans like this constant turnover any better because frankly, the hockey and entertainment value is definitely suffering because of it.

It's almost like you are better off trying to sign players who are not prospects because they are too old, short or slow. That's the only way to have continuity with your players. The other option is to get two affiliates and then you have even less control over the product on YOUR ice. Team sucks? Sorry, nothing we can do about it because that's what we got from our affiliates. Blame them. Out of our hands. Yeah, that would be a great marketing logo.

Ah, what the heck, it all comes down to goaltending anyway.

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 11:11am

Very well said Gibbie42!

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 12:11pm

Gibbie42, that may work in Evansville where you're relatively new to the sp0rt, but the fans in Fort Wayne already know hockey.  And who are you to "teach the fans" anyway?

(I don't mean that as rude as it sounds. But really - what could you teach fans who've watched hockey for 20 - 30 - 40 years, and why would you even try?)

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 12:29pm


I agree the system isn't right, but when is the system right?  Was the system right in the IHL2 while the Komets were the only team enjoying  success?  Because people outside of NE Indiana thought that league was geared to benefit one team. 

As they say in the English soccer world "You only sing when you are winning."

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 12:34pm

Now now greta12, its not nice to pick on Evanstucky fans, just cover up their comments with any one of our championship banners

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 12:49pm

Maybe part of the problem is that the AHL doesn't seem to have a roster limit.

I'm walking a tightrope here because I agree with points made by Blake and also Gibbie. 

There seem to be so many variables in this that it's hard to decipher, let alone make an informed decision.

One thing that the Evansville poster needs to realize and take into consideration is that the Fort Wayne fanbase has had minor league hockey for 62 years.  If we, as the "old dog" need to learn new tricks, well, so be it.  Still, it is difficult for someone or something "new" to come in and try to tell us what we should accept.  Sometimes there is wisdom in experience. 

Ultimately that is the decision.  Do you accept the rules of the league you joined.  I always have to remind myself that the Komets joined the ECHL.  The ECHL didn't join the Komets.

Except for pride, I'm not sure why the ECHL doesn't stand up for itself a little more.  The CHL seems to be a very relunctant alternative to the NHL-AHL afilliation idea.  I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but the NHL (owning many AHL teams and a few ECHL teams) doesn't seem to want to place affiliations there (but will) unless they have to.

The ECHL has a mess on its hands in a way.  One three team division, one entire conference making the playoffs, and two franchises folding within 18 months.

We had people respond favorably to joining the ECHL.  They stated that it was a league where they could see their "own" players someday play in the NHL.  Exactly correct.  But it seems in the Fort Wayne area that, while some may hold that thought dear and close to their hearts, it doesn't translate to the Mad Ants in the NBA D league.  The attendance there is frightful.  Yet many players move up and down from the D league to the NBA and vice versa.  On the other hand, the Tin Caps, (low single A) have great attendance even though players will take some time moving through the system.  Many vividly remember the former Wizards and Tin Cap players who made their way through Fort Wayne.

What's the difference?  Well, my uneducated opinion goes back to the "major" league team(s) and their use and respect for their minor league system.

If you're the Komets management, you want desparately for your players to get called up.  It means you have recruited talent.  It means that agents will be encouraging their clients to come and play here.  It means that you will develop a reputation for moving kids to the next level.  Yes, you will lose some players, but the flip side is that you will attract players to take their place.  Hopefully you attract more than you lose. 

If you are an "independent", you are subject to every AHL team.  Isn't that exactly how Gary Graham was quoted earlier in the year?  ALL AHL teams are a possibility for the players.

Well we lost one for now.  More power to him.  I hope he succeeds.

The challenge now isn't to squabble about one league versas another, it's to repair, replace, and restore a roster decimated by situations. 

So, if the NHL really wanted to help the ECHL (and the health of the sport of hockey) which I don't think they do, the most simple thing would be to put strict limits on their rosters.  I have always believed that players want to play, not sit.  Still, financially who could blame a player for not wanting to go up?  I love hockey.  In many respects, though, I believe Hockey has become the most backward, unorganized sport in North America.  Sometimes I just shake my head at their decisions.

Blake Sebring
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 12:57pm

MOVR, I said this before the Komets ever got into the ECHL, and I know it's hard to believe, but I could care less if they win or lose, I still have to do my job. It's easier when they win because everybody is happy, but if they lose it doesn't affect how I do MY job.

All I'm saying is, why can't the two leagues work together instead of it being so one-sided? FOR EVERY ECHL TEAM. Why shouldn't the AHL team that took Yanni Gourde have to consider replacing him or compensating the Wings in some fashion? Why shouldn't the Wings be rewarded for their own hard work?

Wouldn't that be better for all ECHL fans? I know it's a completely radical  concept that the ECHL look out for its own paying customers first.

Unless this system changes, teams basically have no control over whether they win or lose. It's a total crapshoot, which is fine, but at least be honest about that with your fans, the people who are paying your bills.

And just because these are the rules of the ECHL, doesn't mean they can't be improved upon. Shouldn't the goal be to make the best possible product for your customers?

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 2:37pm

As Mongo once said  "ECHL only pawn in the AHL life "   I guess the only thing to do is join the AHL and have both Kalamazoo and Evansville as our farm teams.  


Wed, 01/29/2014 - 3:46pm

Blake, I meant to post this earlier and kid of got caught up in other things.

Throughout the last week or so, I have sensed a kind of "frustration" in your comments regarding a number of issues.  Believe me I am not criticising, on the contrary if I am sensing things correctly, I am applauding it as I find it refreshing.  I would call it an honest assessment of things.

...a question.  With the Winter Olympics coming soon, do you know or do you speculate that some NHL guys may be sent to their AHL towns for the duration of the games?  Maybe some ECHL teams may re-aquire their players for a time.  I haven't heard anything about it and am wondering.

Blake Sebring
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 3:50pm

That would definitely make sense, Alan, but I think each situation is unique according to each player. I don't think you can count on anything.

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 4:26pm

This blog session has been quite the eye opener Blake. I think you have painted the picture well for all fans to understand the few pros and many cons of this league.  I guess the ability to have some control of your destiny( as an AA franchise owner) ended in the CHL  spring of 2012. 

  I dont think Komet hockey will ever be the same as it was( as we all knew it) but that does not mean you cannot turn a lemon into lemonade. Always a fan no matter what.

 I will say that based on observations, this league seems to end up like college football in that the southern and western teams tend to attract the better non-affliated players( older veterans-golf-sun-warm)     

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 4:39pm

What do the Frankes say about this league. Are the planning on staying in the ECHL or persuing an AHL franchise.Maybe not next year but in the future.

I would sure like to Know before I spend any more money on season tickets. I have been following the Komets since I was 7 years old in 1952.I will not continue paying money for this boring type of hockey.

Blake Sebring
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 4:41pm

They are committed to this league and have said many times they don't believe Fort Wayne fans will pay what it costs to run an AHL franchise.

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 5:47pm

Thanks for the explanation, Blake. Clears a lot of things up!

Other comments also are interesting. Evansville wouldn't even have a team if the Frankes didn't hand them one when they needed it, so it's funny that theit telling us how to run a team!

That said, I think it's the responsibility of the owners, not the AHL, to produce the team. They knew going in what the deal was so they can hardly gripe now. They choose to not have an affiliation and they choose who is part of the organization as in coaches. They have done well in the past but not so good right now so its hard to blame the AHL.

As for affiliations and players being called up, I follow the NHL, the AHL and still some teams in the CHL. Almost every CHL team now has affiliations too, so that's not much different than the ECHL. They have callups too. It's not just the ECHL. The AHL only calls up players when the NHL takes players from them and they have big holes that need to be filled. If they are filling holes, how can they send players down at the same time? Unless they send us really terrible players. I don't think we want that!

Even the SPHL gets hit with guys getting called up when the ECHL or CHL needs players and I don't think they get paid either. It's just the way the system is. Not sure what can be done about it, since all of the lower leagues are supposed to be developmental. If we're finding good players, developing them, and they're getting called up, isn't that the way it is supposed to work? Players should want to come to the Komets because we give them a chance to move up. That's why they are playing, right?

Blake Sebring
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 5:56pm

But if an AHL team has players in the ECHL, and chooses to take a player from another team instead, why can't they assign one of those players to the team they took someone from? There's really no reason at all.

My point was the system didn't used to be this way. In the old IHL there was more of a partnership with the NHL and AHL teams because of the developmental fee. There should be that same kind of partnership between AHL and the ECHL to THE BENEFIT OF THE FANS.

I could care less about the owners in these situations, but he fans deserve better.