Fans of the Komets don’t yet know how many games they’ll get to see next season, or what type of roster the team will be able to use. Those details won’t be settled until a collective-bargaining agreement is finalized between the IHL-Central Hockey League collective and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association.
But we now know of one player who will don the fireball logo, and two who will not.
The Komets’ first signing for the 2010-11 season is defenseman Bobby Phillips, who had two goals and 16 points in 66 games as a rookie, and the team opted not to offer contracts to forward Konstantin Shafranov and defenseman Kevin Bertram, both of whom are expected to retire.
Bobby was a kid we really thought came on as a rookie, Komets general manager David Franke said. We liked what he did at both ends of the ice. He comes to play. And the things we’re looking for are him to work on his conditioning a bit and his consistency.
The Komets won the last three playoff championships in the IHL, which is conjoining with the CHL.
Nothing has been finalized, but Franke is working as if the IHL will adopt rules similar to last season in the CHL: a maximum of four veterans, of which goaltenders do not count, and a minimum of five developmental players who have played 128 games or less, of which Phillips counts.
I’m very excited to be coming back, said Phillips, who will take classes next season at IPFW as he pursues a nursing degree.
Fort Wayne is the best place in America to play minor-league hockey, and I’m excited to be a part of it again next season.
Phillips, 24, already has a biology degree from Mercyhurst, where he played from 2005 to 2009.
Now that I think I’ve adapted to the change in speed (in the pro game), I feel I can improve offensively, Phillips said. I don’t think I’ll go out and get 40 points, but I can help more in the offensive zone.
Shafranov, 41, played seven seasons with the Komets dating to 1995-96, when he was the IHL Rookie of the Year. He had a five-game NHL stint with the St. Louis Blues in 1996-97, and last season, he tallied 19 goals and 57 points in 58 games before joining Kazakhstan for the World Championships.
Bertram, 33, skated seven seasons with the Komets dating to 2001-02, when he was the team’s defenseman of the year. He is a full-time member of the Fort Wayne Fire Department.
Shafranov and Bertram understand we are going to have fewer veterans this season, and it was probably time to move on, Franke said.