While the Fort Wayne Komets were losing seven players over the past couple weeks to American Hockey League call-ups, maybe the strangest question was about who was not going up. Wasn't there any interest in the Komets' best players, Brandon Marino and J.M. Rizk?
Monday morning, Rizk and Marino are getting their chance as they leave to play with Norfolk. Both are free agents who took part in AHL training camps before the season began, but this is their first real regular-season chance at the next level.
``It's exciting, and I'll try and enjoy it, I guess,'' Rizk said. ``I'll try to make an impression, but you can only control what you can control. You can't expect anything, just go up and see what they want from you and make a good impression.''
Marino leads the Komets with 44 points in 44 games, and Rizk has 25 points in 40 games but is also the team's best defensive forward.
``I couldn't be happier for them,'' Komets center Brett Smith said. ``To me, Marinio has had a great year, and not taking anything away from him, but Rizker in my opinion is the best player on this hockey team. There's no doubt in my mind about that, and he deserves it and I hope I never see him again.''
The call-ups are happening because the NHL lockout ended officially on Saturday and training camps started on Sunday, meaning AHL farm clubs
The Central Hockey League's Most Valuable Player last year, Marino has been the Komets' leading scorer all season, but he's also worked very hard on his defensive game. He knows he probably won't be asked to score in Norfolk, but he can certainly give a full effort defensively.
``It's just exciting to get the call-up,'' Marino said. ``We'll try to go have a good showing and stay up there as long as possible, get the experience and try to play well and see what you can do up there. I think with the lockout ending you'll see a lot of guys going up and down now. We'll do our best to go up and play well and see what happens.''
The Admirals have a home game Tuesday and three games on the weekend. The NHL season starts Saturday, meaning the constant player movement will continue. The Komets have already used 44 players this season compared to 27 for all of last year.
``Hopefully by the end of the week you'll start seeing guys coming back,'' Komets General Manager David Franke said. ``I think probably Thursday there's going to be a lot of movement of players.''
But the Komets have a game Wednesday at Evansville.
``For Wednesday, we have to figure it out,'' Franke said.
Chaulk is in hospital
Franke said Colin Chaulk is in an unnamed local hospital with a recurrence of his foot staph infection. Chaulk is being treated with intravenous anti-biotics and has not required surgery at this time, Franke said. This pushes back Chaulk's target date of Jan. 18 for returning to the lineup. Chaulk has also been suffering from the flu.
Franke said Luca Caputi may be about a week away from returning from a shoulder injury.