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Komets General Manager David Franke, a noted workaholic, did something Thursday he can't ever remember doing before. He left town for a vacation and made a point of leaving all of his hockey folders behind. He even warned all the players and team staff he wouldn't be available for at least a week.
ECHL teams can't announce any signings until June 16, and Franke said he doubts the Komets will have any signings to announce until after July 4 anyway.
"We're already working on it,'' Franke said. "It's not like we're making the move from AA-hockey to the NHL or the AHL. There will be some changes made for sure, some based on the league and some based on we just want to change the way it looks. I don't look at the jump from the CHL to the ECHL to be real difficult for us.''
That's interesting considering how many problems the Komets had moving from the International Hockey League to the Central Hockey League during the 2010-11 season. A slow start killed the Komets who seemed to spend the first half of the season trying to find new players every week.
``I know we got a slow start in the CHL, but that was because we had won three championships in a row and we're always very loyal to our players and we brought too many guys back,'' Franke said. ``We didn't have the hunger and the commitment wasn't there that first year. I think it was because we had too many of the players back from the three previous years.
``We're going to make sure to attempt to bring the right guys back. We're not going to make that mistake.''
They also didn't have Colin Chaulk back to help run the locker room because the veteran center had returned to Italy. When he re-signed halfway through that season, the team took off. This time the Komets hope to have Chaulk back at the start.
The Komets also want to bring back a core group of younger players, but there will be changes in the lineup. Because the team switched leagues, all the players are free agents, and as champions, will have lots of options.
"This is almost a perfect storm for the players,'' Franke said. "There are a lot of them who are going to look at Europe. We'll do the best we can bringing back the core group of guys, but there will be new faces.''
Still, Franke has already started preliminary discussions with some players about returning next year.
Komets coach Al Sims attended two games of the ECHL's Kelly Cup Finals between Florida and Las Vegas.
``The goaltending for both teams was outstanding,'' Sims said. ``We were one of the fastest teams in the CHL so I don't think the speed would have affected our team as much. You definitely have to build a fast team, but both teams had eight guys over 6-foot, a lot of big guys who can skate. I feel a lot better having seen the two best teams play for two games with everything on the line so I could get a good idea of what to expect.''
Asked how the Komets could match up with ECHL champion Florida, Sims said. ``Our team is a championship team and those teams were definite worthy of a championship. It would definitely be a good contest.''
Assistant coach Gary Graham has been offered a position with Bloomington of the CHL to be an assistant to Fort Wayne-native Brian Gratz and head coach of the Blaze's new junior team. He's also a finalist for the head coaching position with Pensacola of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
Franke said the Komets are designing three new uniforms for next season. The colors will still be orange, black and white... The Komets' new website goes up Wednesday at www.komets.com... With a playoff attendance average of 7,029, the Komets finished behind the AHL's Hershey (9,064) and Rochester (7,118) in minor league postseason attendance. Hershey had two home games and Rochester only one... This was not the year to be a regular-season champion going into the playoffs. Norfolk of the AHL is the only No. 1 seed among the NHL and the top four minor leagues that has a chance to win a playoff title. In fact, the Admirals and Wichita of the CHL are the only No. 1 seeds to advance to their playoff finals... So far, J.M. Rizk (wrist), David Starenky (knee), Frankie DeAngelis (knee) and Bryant Molle (shoulder) have had successful postseason surgeries. The Komets and Brett Smith are still determining if he needs surgery on his neck... The ECHL's annual meetings will be held June 18-22 in Las Vegas.