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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Coliseum takes responsibility for Chaulk Komets banner mistake

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

No. 91 was hung upside down for Saturday's ceremony

Sunday, February 19, 2017 02:27 pm
Memorial Coliseum Executive Vice President and General Manager Randy Brown said Sunday it was the building's culpability for the gaff with Colin Chaulk's Fort Wayne Komets retirement banner. A Saturday night crowd of 9,515 gasped as Chaulk removed the cover during a pregame ceremony to discover his No. 91 had been hung upside down. Komets officials tried to make the best of the situation but could not loosen the bolts holding the banner to the pulleys that would raise it to the rafters. Because the game had to get started, the banner was lifted and coliseum officials flipped it during the first intermission.

"On behalf of the Coliseum, we deeply regret the mistake that was made," Brown said. "It was an unfortunate mistake that the coliseum deeply apologizes to all Komets fans, the Franke family and Colin Chaulk and his family. We are embarrassed by the error and will do everything possible to ensure that it doesn't happen again moving forward."

Asked if the Komets could have done anything to prevent the mishap, Brown said, "The coliseum takes full responsibility for the mistake and the banner. It is not the Komets' fault. They had nothing to do with this and we are deeply sorry for what happened."

The story quickly spread nationwide on social media as shocked and livid members of Komets management apologized to Chaulk during the event and again after the game.

The coliseum employee responsible has written a letter of apology to members of team management and Chaulk.

Some fans questioned whether the Komets may have been attempting to embarrass Chaulk who played 10 years in Fort Wayne and led the team to five playoff championships.

"The Fort Wayne Komets are tenants of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, and as such we are allowed access to areas necessary to our operation," Komets Vice President Scott Sproat said. "There are some areas that we are restricted from at all times. No member of the Komets management, Komets players/staff, coaches or trainers, no one is allowed access into the catwalks. We could not have seen the banner once it was attached to the industrial cable used to hold it."

Sproat said once a Komets staff member dropped off the banner to coliseum personnel earlier in the week, the matter was out of the team's control.

"There's nothing you can do. It happened. If anybody thinks it was intentional, then that person doesn't even deserve a reply, because it's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. We would not go to the trouble of making the banner and having Colin's family in town and doing the ceremony just to make ourselves look foolish. Did anyone think we'd do all that just to make ourselves look stupid?

"There was absolutely nothing, realistically, physically or literally we could have done to prevent it or we would have. We have had our individual conversations with Colin and we're at peace with that because he knows we would not have done that."

After the game, which the Komets won 4-3 in overtime, a couple of Chaulk's Brampton players asked if the mistake was on purpose. Some of his family and friends asked if the Komets had an ax to grind with Chaulk.

"It's unfortunate," Chaulk said before meeting with dozens of Komets fans outside the Brampton locker room. "I would think you would double-check that before you put it out there. I've learned that it's how I respond to things and it's definitely out of my control. It was a great night, I enjoyed myself and I was happy for my family to be here."

Komets General Manager David Franke said it's the most embarrassed he's been during his 27 seasons with the club, and his brother, team President Michael Franke, said everyone associated with the organization felt terrible about the situation.

On Sunday, Michael Franke said he's hoping that now the incident is finished.

"I knew the coliseum would step up," he said. "At the end of the day, we just have to move on and realize that the most important thing is that that banner will be up there for decades to come to remind the community of the type of player and person Colin Chaulk was and what he meant to us."

For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring, at his blog tailingthekomets.com and on Facebook at Blake Sebring.

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