The one good thing for Nick Boucher about sitting out because of hip surgery is that he lost his off-the-ice job, too. After four years as the team's finemaster, Boucher was glad to lose the responsibility of making sure everyone on the team followed the rules.
``You need to be a jerk about it,'' Boucher said. ``The guys have to be held accountable. Our job is a little different where you're not going to be written up for being late or violating workplace rules. We have to hold ourselves accountable. It's the finemaster's duty to be the bad guy sometimes.''
And his teammates will always say no one was better at being that bad guy than Boucher. Some of them will even smile while saying it, while the rest use words much harsher than ``bad guy.''
``It's easy to replace a jerk,'' new finemaster Kaleigh Schrock said. `` Bouch is a jerk, so I automatically come in as a good guy. Actually, Nick is a great finemaster, and I probably donated more than anybody last year because he was all over me.''
See, a finemaster must be feared and respected. Schrock could be the perfect finemaster because he's already broken most of the rules during his four-year career. He's also great at nagging teammates to turn their money in.
``At first I was kind of nervous about it, but now it's fun,'' Schrock said. ``It kind of gives me a reason to get under somebody's skin, which is good. Usually I don't even need a reason.''
Some of the violations include being late for a game, practice, bus departure, doctor's appointment or team appearance; dress code violations; using cellphones during team meetings or in the locker room before games; throwing a jersey on the floor; or forgetting equipment.
Injured players must arrive at the rink by 8:30 a.m. for treatment. There are also fines for missed practices, missed weigh-ins and for taking selfish penalties during a game such as unsportsmanlike or misconducts.
A few of the more unique ones include shaving chest hair in the shower, using profanity around children and a few others pertaining to bodily functions, which are among the most costly fines. Fines cost from $5 for a missed weigh-in to as much as $100 for a missed practice.
Most fines cost $10 -- at least to start. After Schrock has posted a fine on the locker room board, players have three days to pay the fine before another $10 is added. If the new total is not paid within a week, the sum will be taken out of a player's next paycheck.
``We have a fine list and it's pretty much black-or-white,'' Schrock said. ``If you make a mistake or don't live up to what you are supposed to be doing, you're going to get fined for it. You come to your workplace every day you want to keep it clean, and having a fine list is one way to keep that in order.
``It provides some structure in the locker room. It's not like your everyday office job. The morning meetings I have at Northwestern Mutual (where he works part time) are a lot different than the dialogue in the locker room.''
If a player wants to appeal a fine, the team will hold a kangaroo court session after Monday's practice. A player can speak for himself, or he can ask a teammate to serve as his attorney. Brent Henley will serve as judge this year if anyone is brave enough to give the system a try.
``That's where it gets fun, and that's what being around the boys is all about,'' Schrock said. ``It hasn't happened this year, but it will happen.''
Though he's the finemaster, Schrock can be fined as well. Because he wore a baseball cap to the Komets' recent season-ticket-holders party, he had to pay $10.
Boucher would also fine himself, saying once you become the finemaster you can't break the rules. He'd make sure his teammates saw him adding to the fine envelop. He also tried to include a $1 million fine for scoring on him during warm-ups.
``When we practiced at McMillen, it was bad because the freight train would come trough right at a key time,'' Boucher said. ``If you were cutting it close you'd hit the train every time, but if you were late or early you'd miss it every time. That was something I learned my first year when Terry Marchant was the finemaster.''
Coaches, equipment managers and trainers can also be fined. Trainer Shawn Dundon was once fined for sending a player to a medical appointment on the wrong day. Both coaches last year were fined for forgetting their game-day suits on road trips. Rookies can be fined for just about anything because, well, they are rookies.
Usually, about one-third of the team can go through the entire season without being fined, Boucher said.
The money for the fines goes into a team pot that is used for team parties such as Halloween, Super Bowl and the end-of-the season blowout. This year's account money was used for Sunday night's rookie party.
``Last year I didn't enforce a lot of the stuff like I did in the past,'' Boucher said. ``I got to the point where the bad stuff I'd fine and the little stuff I let go. We didn't have as much money at the end of the year.''
That won't be much of a problem this season, Schrock insists.
`I'm not as strict as Nick is, but one thing is for sure, when the money is due, Schrocky is coming.''