Komets notes: Hockey debating injury status updates

Komets forward Gabriel Desjardins has scored five goals in the last two games. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)

National Hockey League coach Ken Hitchcock recently started a debate by deciding to disclose the actual injury information of players. Over the last 15 years or so, teams have described injuries with vague terms such as “upper body” or “lower body” or even “undisclosed.” Before that, they often just lied.

“Rather than go through the dance and play the big game, we just decided let’s get it out there so they can print it, move on and let’s get on with the subject of what’s going on on the team,” Hitchcock is quoted in a story by Stephen Whyno of The Associated Press.

The other major sports are much more forthcoming with injury information, and the NFL produces weekly injury reports, partly it is assumed for betting purposes. There are no official rules in hockey leagues or in players union collective bargaining agreements specifying what kind of injury information teams are required to reveal.

According to an ESPN story, the NHL policy states, “When an injury occurs in a regular season game, a Club spokesperson must notify the media of the approximate location, nature, and severity of the injury as soon as possible, except to the extent that the Club determines that such disclosure may jeopardize the Player’s physical well-being if and when the Player returns to play, in which case the Club is entitled to provide a more general overview of the Player’s injury status.”

The fear seems to be that opponents may find the information and target specific areas during games.

Though teams are often reluctant to share specific injury information, they usually disclose the length of time a player is expected to miss because of an injury. Not only are there differing policies regarding injury information among teams, sometimes there’s not even agreement within various departments of the teams.

Sometimes it’s not an argument as much as differing philosophies.

Komets coach Gary Graham has always been more protective of injury information.

“I always believe just be vague about it,” Graham said. “It protects the interests of the player. Everything you should do is always a player-first mentality. I think less information, the better.”

General Manager David Franke is usually more forthcoming.

“I think it’s a lot of paranoia,” Franke said. “I don’t know if players are going out and worrying about hitting opposing players here or there. I think they are more concerned in playing the game and trying to win and do their part. If we can announce what it is, we will. I just think it’s a little bit of overkill and paranoia when you go upper- and lower-body. Nobody is out there, `Oh, he’s got a bad calf so let’s slash him in the calf.’ You aren’t worried about hurting a guy who is already hurt, you are more worried about helping your team win, at least you should be.”

Franke also made the point that often players announce what their injuries are on social media.

During the playoffs, however, everyone usually shuts down any information about injuries.

The ECHL always follows the NHL in terms of rules and policies, so any specific change will have to come from the higher league.

High-scoring squad

Though the Komets lead the ECHL with 4.24 goals per game, they are a long, long way from even cracking the Top 10 of the highest-scoring Fort Wayne teams of all-time. The record is an amazing 4.91 goals per game by the 1964-65 team that had Merv Dubchak, Len Thornson, Bobby Rivard and Norm Waslawski all scoring more than 40 goals. The 1982-83 Komets scored 4.60 goals per game and the 1959-50 Komets who went 50-16-2 averaged 4.58 goals. The 1980s were a wild time for offense as four of those teams ranked among the Top 10.

As a comparison, last year’s squad averaged 3.67 goals per game. The Komets haven’t averaged four goals per game since scoring 4.28 in 1993-94.

This really shows how much hockey has changed.

Now here’s a stat!

The Wheeling Nailers lead the ECHL on the power play at 20.8 percent, but they are scoreless in 16 attempts against the Komets this season. That’s a big reason why Fort Wayne is 3-1 in the series so far. The teams meet again Feb. 16 in Wheeling and April 7 in Fort Wayne.

Speaking of Wheeling

For the last two seasons, Komets fan Heather Lenington has organized some bus trips for fans to away games. The odd thing? The Komets are 5-1 in those games, including Sunday’s 7-3 win at Wheeling which is always a tough place to play. The coaches even boarded the bus to thank the fans after the game.

There are two trips left, Saturday to Quad City and March 30 to Cincinnati. Anyone interested in going can contact Lenington at thekometkruizers@gmail.com.

Why he’s captain

During his four years as a captain — in Allen for one season and the last three in Fort Wayne — Jamie Schaafsma always makes a point of taking the pregame ceremonial puck drops. If he’s in the lineup, he’s doing it.

“It’s usually an honor to get to shake hands with the people dropping the puck, especially when they are military vets, police and firefighters or cancer survivors,” Schaafsma said. “They are the real heroes.”

How’s this for amazing

There are still 31 games left in the regular season, but already Mason Baptista, Marc-Olivier Roy, Ryan Culkin, Daniel Maggio, Gabriel Desjardins, Garrett Thompson, Cody Sol and Taylor Crunk have established new career-highs for points.

Icing the puck

Defenseman Curtis Leonard is now the only Komets who has played in every game this season… The Komets have out-scored their last 10 opponents 29-11 during the third period, and they have scored at least four goals 10 games in a row, going 9-1… They’ve also won five of their last six games on the road. The Komets are 14-8-0 on the road and 16-5-2 at home where they have won 10 of their last 12… Besides being 14-2-0 in games after a Komets loss, goaltender Garrett Bartus has a 35-9-0 record as a goaltender with the Komets… The Komets are 22-0-0 when reaching five or more goals in a game this season… Compared to this year’s record of 30-13-2 and 62 points after 45 games, the Komets had a 27-14-4 record and 58 points after 45 games last year and needed 49 games to reach the 60-point plateau… The Komets are 12-3 so far against non-Central Division teams. Toledo is 11-3-3. Fort Wayne is 18-10-2 against division foes… The Komets should call the line of Dennis Kravchenko, Gabriel Desjardins and Louick Marcotte “The Attack Dogs” because of the way they love to forecheck. They’ll go after anyone.

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