Because of their passion for the game, communication, leadership and desire to win, some veteran players are obvious coaches in training. Bruce Boudreau, Colin Chaulk, Bruce Ramsay, Kevin Reiter and Sean Venedam were all Komets whom teammates respected almost as if they were the coach.
So was center Bruce Richardson during his one year in Fort Wayne, 2006-07. Richardson retired in 2011 after a 15-year pro career, a season in which he also served as head coach of the Braehead Clan of the United Kingdom Elite League in Glasgow, Scotland.
``I started that organization from scratch,'' Richardson said Wednesday from his home near Montreal. ``I came back here in the summer and I was looking for an opportunity where when the owner called me. I had to order all the equipment, skate, laces, I had to start from scratch. I was recruiting without even knowing what I was selling. I didn't even know they had ice there.''
He basically told potential players to trust him, and then went back to ordering sticks and the rest of the equipment.
"We started with 800 people in the stands and finished with 3,000,'' Richardson said. "I won the Coach of the Year award, and we finished fifth overall.''
After that season, Richardson retired as a player and came back to North America to coach a prep team near his home. Now, he'd like to be considered as a candidate for the Komets' head-coaching spot.
Richardson, 35, said he has communicated with Komets General Manager David Franke about the possibility of replacing Al Sims but does not know if he'll be considered for an interview.
One reason he returned from Europe is because he'd like to receive an opportunity to coach in the United States.
"At that level you need somebody to give you a break and believe in you,'" he said. ``There are a lot of coaches around and a lot of recycling going on because guys have connections. I have connections, but I want to get in because they think I am the best candidate. I think one day I'll get a break. It's all about recruiting.''
Richardson is still just as passionate about hockey and his desire to win as he was six years ago. As a lifelong tweener as a player, constantly shifting between ECHL and the American Hockey League, he understands the mentality of those players and believes he can help them improve.
"If there is a place where a coach can start coaching at that level, it's Fort Wayne,'" Richardson said. "I think David Franke is involved in the recruiting a lot, and he would help a new coach coming in. I think I have the experience, but I still have to learn on the job. You have to start somewhere, and they have a guy like David who has been around in every league and they are very helpful. It makes it easier on the coaching job.''
The last two years Richardson has coached Chateauguay in Quebec Midget AAA hockey.
"`It's basically kids 15 to 17 years old looking for NCAA scholarships, the USHL and and major juniors," Richardson said. "Last year I had one of the teams with the most players drafted. It was a good opportunity for me, and it's good-caliber hockey. We play 48 games plus playoffs, and this year we lost in the semifinals in Game 7.'"
Richardson said he's got an assistant coach, a goaltender coach, a video specialist and a statistician on staff. The players go to school until 12 p.m. and practice from 2 to 4 p.m.