For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.
Komets at Evansville
Face-off: 8:15 p.m.
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM
TV: MyTV, Comcast Ch. 18; Frontier Ch. 9
Friday was one of the more baffling days in the Fort Wayne Komets' recent history, and it may take a while to understand.
Things really started going strangely on Thursday when forwards Mickey Lang and Mike Vaskivuo came back from Christmas break but did not practice that night. Then the Komets announced in a statement they were suspending Lang and Vaskivuo and would offer not further comment until the situation was resolved. Lang leads the ECHL in goals scored with 17, and Vaskivuo was the Most Valuable Player of the Komets 2012 championship run in the Central Hockey League.
Obviously, the Komets are working on trading both, but the players who are remaining pulled together to beat Toledo 4-3 before 7,577 Memorial Coliseum fans on Friday.
Neither Lang or Vaskivuo offered much explanation in texts they released to the media, and Komets coach Gary Graham also declined comment except in generalities.
The one person who might be closer to it than anyone, the players' agent, says he's not totally sure what's going on, either. Russ King said when he started representing Lang and Vaskivuo last week after they approached him, they told him they needed his help in finding new teams.
``They said, `We love the town and the team but we just feel it's time for a change,' and they didn't want to get into it which is kind of a tough one for me,'' King said from Toronto. ``When the leading goal scorer in the ECHL (Lang) asks you to represent him, you aren't going to ask him too much. It was a tough one.''
According to King, Lang and Vaskivuo sat down with the Komets a few days before Christmas and expressed a desire to be traded. It was decided at that point to let the players go home over the Christmas break and think about it. When they returned to Fort Wayne on Thursday, the players reiterated they wanted to move on.
``This has nothing to do with Gary Graham,'' King said. ``For some reason these guys want a change. Maybe it's to get to a warmer climate. All they really said to me is they feel it's time for a change. After a long conversation, I said I would try and help them.''
Ironically, King also represents Tristan King, Bobby Hughes and Rob Kwiet who moved from the Komets to other teams within the last month. He also represents defenseman William Lacasse who has played very well in Fort Wayne, and King said he's thrilled what Graham has been able to do for Lacasse.
Even crazier, King says he has players who he hopes to move to the Komets. He obviously would not name them but said a couple are ``phenomenal'' ECHL players.
``Gary and I are real good with each other,'' King said. ``I'm sure there will be two good players coming back (from a Vaskivuo and Lang trade). I hope something gets done by Monday. Fort Wayne is the place I want these kids to be.
``I think the world of Gary and the Komets,'' King said. ``You couldn't do what I do and make it personal. All this is just part of the business.''
But some days that business is completely baffling.
Maybe this is one mess where things work out well for everyone. That would make as much sense as anything.
Statements on the Komets' suspension of forwards Mickey Lang and Mike Vaskivuo:
From General Manager David Franke: ``From our standpoint these two players were going to be key members of the 2013-14 Komet team, but things have not worked out from the team perspective. We feel that it is time to charnge up the team further and make the right move to better our team in the coming days. So, both players have been suspended until a move can be made. There will be no further discussion on the matter by the Komets until the issue is properly resolved.''
Mickey Lang: `Unfortunately, it didn't work out here. I respect the Frankes and coach Graham and appreciate them for giving me the opportunity to play for the Komet organization. I wish the Komet team and everyone involved in Koet hockey nothing but success the remainder of the season and the years to follow. I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to play in front of the great Komet hockey fans.''
Mike Vaskivuo: ``I just want to say that it didn't work out. I leave with a heavy heart because of the success that we had together. Fort Wayne has been nothing but great to me. The fans and locals are what make this place remarkable. With that being said, I am looking forward to a new opportunity elsewhere. I wish nothing but the best to the organization.''