Ask The Beat Writer: Fort Wayne Komets for July 20
As the start of a regular new News-Sentinel.com feature, we’ll attempt to answer questions from the fans every two weeks or so. Fans can submit questions by replying to this story, through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @blakesebring or on Facebook.
We’ve already got enough questions to do another round in two weeks.
Josh Cliffwood: Is there any single player that the Komets hate playing against? And if so, have they ever tried to sign that player?
News-Sentinel: There are plenty of players who have had continued success against the Komets, but “hate” is way too strong a word. Fans are usually far more passionate than players in this regard. The Komets always keep their eyes open for when and if players like those become available. In the past, they have signed Scott Gruhl, Tracy Egeland, Paul Jerrard, Mitch Messier, Chad Grills, Kevin MacDonald, Ross Wilson and Bruce Ramsay, and they tried to trade for Jim Duhart.
Matt Schweyer: Would the city not have been better-suited to work with the Frankes and Komets organization for the arena downtown? I’m sure it’d need to be bigger, but critical mass would be welcomed.
NS: Probably, but it was already going to cost $120 million and adding ice and another 5,000 seats would have pushed it to an even more ridiculous level. How about we pay off the Memorial Coliseum renovation from 2002 before we talk about spending stupid money? Yes, one project is county government and one is the city, but it’s all the same taxpayers.
“No one ever contacted us to even talk about the viability of an arena downtown,” Komets President Michael Franke said. “We’ve been dealing with this business for 28 years and we’ve seen buildings built in cities that became disasters and some that have done very, very well. To me, the odd thing is that we were never contacted for our perspective on it. That was their prerogative. There was no need for another arena downtown and that was the bottom line. Sadly, we could have saved them a lot of money on consulting fees by telling them that fact at the beginning. An arena downtown was the last thing that this community needed.”
Bryan Meyer: Why do we still have 8 p.m. Friday games?
NS: “No. 1, most people work on Fridays, most people who are younger who have children, have kids who are in activities on Friday afternoon,” Michael Franke said. “To make a night out of it, it’s very difficult unless you can get to a restaurant by 5:30-5:45 or even make dinner at home. I know we have a certain segment of our fans who don’t like it and who don’t have those circumstances, but we do it mostly for the convenience of our walk-up fans, and that’s our biggest walk-up night of the week. Most people don’t work on Saturday and it’s easy for them to get to the restaurant and have mom or dad cook dinner and get to the building by 7:15 or 7:20.”
Robert Musser: Has there ever been a rival team you would rather cover/not cover?
NS: No, I pretty much get along with everyone. They may be the Komets’ rival, but they aren’t mine.
Vanessa Shafer: What has been the most memorable game you’ve covered in your time on the Komets beat?
NS: Game 2 of 1993 semifinals against Atlanta. Still the best game I ever covered in any sport. Both teams left everything they had on the ice and it was an extremely high quality. Because it was on the road, not many Komets fans saw it.
Heather Poe: What was your most memorable moment with Bob Chase?
NS: Sorry for the length of this answer, but it’s worth it. In 1993, the IHL All-Star Game was in Phoenix, and Bob had been kicked out of his room so he was bunking with Kent Hormann and me. On the night before the game, we sat with the door open on a deliciously warm February evening. As we were grousing about not having anything to drink, this little guy walking past the room heard Bob talking and stuck his head in to say hello. It was Ted Giannoulas who was performing the next night at the game as the San Diego Chicken and who from his many performances in Fort Wayne knew Bob.
He also knew where to find beer, so we all sat there for a bit shooting the bull. Ted left, and Kent and I futilely tried to match Bob’s consumption rate, finally giving up and going to bed about 1:30 a.m., or about 4:30 a.m. Fort Wayne time, or about 24 hours after the day had started.
As per his custom, Bob woke up at 4:30 a.m. fresh as a daisy, doing some voice exercises so he could call into WOWO’s morning show. We wanted to threaten bodily harm, but (a.) he was a lot bigger than us, and (b.) we were unable to move for several more hours. So that night, without a nap and working on about three hours’ sleep, Bob broadcast a nearly perfect game as Pokey Reddick was a human highlight film, making 13 saves on 14 shots to lead the East to a win.
Craig Scooter McDaniel: In all the Komets years is there a way to find out which teams and what years the Komets had an affiliation with an NHL or AHL team?
NS: Here’s an unofficial list. The problem is, there’s no one left to ask on some of the early years. If someone remembers others, please respond.
In 1972-73, they were affiliated with Pittsburgh Penguins after Amarillo of the Central Hockey League folded. During the 1980s, they were affiliated for brief times with Winnipeg, Washington and the New York Islanders, mainly for goaltenders. They had secondary affiliations with Quebec, Montreal, Philadelphia, Detroit and Buffalo in the early 1990s, and with Anaheim, Boston, Ottawa, Florida in the late 1990s. That’s when the NHL used to sign about twice as many players per season as they do now. In 2010-11, the Komets had a secondary deal with Columbus, followed by deals with Anaheim/Norfolk in 2012-13, Colorado in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and Arizona/Tucson in 2017-18.
Thanks for taking part in our second “Ask the beat writer” segment. Please continue to submit questions and we’ll be back Aug. 3. What would you like to learn about your favorite hockey team?