In the week before Father's Day, Brett Smith decided his kids were more important than the Komets.
The veteran center signed Tuesday as the first player with the Central Hockey League's Brampton Beast, an expansion team located near his hometown of Guelph, Ontario. The move allows Smith, 31, to spend more time with his children Ally, 7, and Avery, 4, who live in Guelph with his former wife.
``I've been around the kids, and just being back home it made me realize this is where I'd like to be,'' Smith said. ``There is a professional hockey team a stone's throw away, and what a bonus that is because I still love to play. I couldn't tell you the sleepless nights that I've had over the last month and a half trying to come up with a decision.''
Smith said he met recently with Komets General Manager David Franke, who encouraged him to make the best decision for his family.
``I talked to David for an hour, and he tried to calm me down so I wasn't so emotional about it,'' Smith said. ``It just came down to that this is it, and it's sad that I won't be a Komet. I was almost in tears leaving his office. I wouldn't change anything. Two years was phenomenal and everything was great. I enjoyed my time. I wish things like that could last forever.''
Smith played two years in Fort Wayne, helping the Komets win the 2012 CHL title as he scored 61 points in 55 games and then 13 points in 17 playoff games. Last season he scored 45 points in 63 games.
Though his professional address is changing, Smith will continue to have strong ties to Fort Wayne as he is marrying native Kara Austin on Sept. 14.
``I kind of wanted to play in Fort Wayne again, but in cases like this, you have to do the best for everybody,'' he said. ``Kara and I have been weighing all the options. She supports me in whatever decision I make, and she's willing to come here or stay there.
``I'm excited that my kids are going to be able to be part of a hockey season more than they have been because who knows how much longer I will play. It was the right decision because hockey won't last forever, but the two years of memories that I have as a Komet will last forever.''