The Fort Wayne Komets are 7-7-3 with one more game to go before completing one-quarter of their season. The News-Sentinel sat down with General Manager David Franke during Saturday's game at Kalamazoo to see where he sees the team heading into a four-game road stretch starting Friday in Elmira.
Where do you think the Komets stand right now?
Right in the middle of it. I think we're still in the thick of it. We have a bunch of new players this year, and I looked at Florida roster and they have 14 players back. We're still trying to find our identity, I think. We have a lot of new players and a new coach and we're still trying to find our identity and what kind of team we're going to be.
We've made some good additions, especially with (Jordon) Southorn coming in. I think we have the players on the team. I think we just need to finish. Offensively, we are not finishing the way we have to. When we get two-on-ones, three-on-ones, we have to get a good opportunity instead of always shooting high and wide. It just gets old after a while.
Do you think the team needs a power forward?
I think we do. I think we could use a power forward who could do some scoring. We're looking every day to see who is out there. There are some guys out there but their salaries don't fit where we're trying to be. That's why some teams get rid of them, because they are hoping another team will pick up his salary. We don't have that flexibility in our salary cap right now. We need to be very selective on who we bring in from here on in.
I think we're good defensively from the defensemen standpoint. I'm disappointed that we're not seeing more offense from some of our defensemen who were brought here for the offensive part of the game. I have yet to see it in some of their cases. The forwards just have to bear down a little bit more and get the puck on net. We fire high and wide so many times it's like comical almost. When we get two-on-ones and three-on-ones, we have to create good scoring chances for ourselves. Those are chances we get because of our speed.
Is there a chance goaltender John Muse could come back from Charlotte?
I don't know. I put a call into the coach today (Saturday). I don't see it happening right now, but I'll know more next week. Tonight, Cody Reichard is playing and this is his opportunity. He's been patient all season long, and he's only been in three or four games. This is a good chance for him to get his stock a little higher tonight. This is his chance and he as to run with it.
Do you need a No. 1 goaltender?
I think we have the goalkeeping to the point where they can give us a chance to win. (Audrey) Makarov gave us a chance to win last night, but we kind of gave up the good play that he had in net by only scoring one goal. We had so many opportunities that we have to start cashing in on them. This team was made with speed and skill up front and when we get those opportunities we have to cash on them.
What do you say to the fans who say you are just too small up front?
I don't know if we're too small up front. Some games maybe it looks that way, but overall I don't think we're too small. We have a lot of skill and speed. If there's anything about being small, we do have some smaller guys who can get bumped off the puck, but, hey, I don't see Mickey Lang or Brandon Marino backing down from anybody in this league. They can dish it out as well as take it.
I think right now if we have to upgrade the goaltending, we'll do that. If we have to go out and find a bigger forward who can really play the game and add some offense to us, we'll do that.
One thing that has been interesting of late is if there is a problem you are not letting it sit for two or three weeks and see if it works itself out. You are making changes quickly, such as the trade of captain Nick Tuzzolino.
I think the setup we have now with the three alternates is a good one. We may go the rest of the year with that. If we do name a new captain, it won't be for a while. Let's see if anybody else comes to the forefront from a leadership standpoint. I think it was important to include Mickey Lang in that. He's one of our best guys and our leading scorer and it was very cool moment to reward him for that.
This team has proven it can play with anybody, but why the inconsistency?
We overplay the puck a lot, and then we get a good chance and we shoot it high and wide. We can be eight feet in front of the net and shoot it wide. I don't understand that. That has to be something within the player.