Though he hasn't signed yet with the Fort Wayne Komets, J.M. Rizk sounds like he has.
"Everybody has something to prove this year,'' the 27-year-old center said.
After spending part of the summer at home in Dunham, Quebec, Rizk is back in Fort Wayne to start getting ready for the upcoming season. He thinks signing a contract is a matter of timing and opportunity. The money has been settled upon, and he's excited to see what plans the Komets have for him.
"They are building a whole new team, and that takes a lot of work,'' he said. "I know the fans want everybody signed right now, but that takes some time. I'm not concerned.
"They showed interest in me by protecting me, and I think that's big. I didn't know what was going to happen at the end of the year because not making the playoffs is a big deal. They didn't have to keep me and there will be a lot of new guys, but to be a guy who was protected was a big deal.''
Rizk scored 19 goals and 34 points last year in his second year with the Komets. He also stepped up on the leadership side and was one of the players who expressed how disappointed he was at times with the team's play.
The Komets currently have 15 players under contract. Rizk and defenseman Daniel Maggio are the only players off the team's nine-man protected list who have not signed yet. Maggio is hoping for an American Hockey League contract first. The Komets maintain the exclusive rights to Maggio and Rizk until Aug. 1.
"You can definitely see a change with what they have brought in from what we had last year,'' Rizk said. "You can tell on the back end, that's where they are trying to build from. You've got some size and some young guys who hopefully will do well.''
Rizk said he's talked a few times recently with new Komets coach Gary Graham, but expects that will likely pick up now that he's back in town.