FORT WAYNE – Colin Chaulks arrivederci continues to reverberate for the Komets.
Say hello again, Mathieu Curadeau.
A day after announcing the signing of a huge piece of the puzzle – three-time Turner cup champion goaltender Nick Boucher – the Komets announced the signing of two more major pieces: Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Curadeau, who split time between the ECHL and AHL last season after playing a significant role in two of the Komets three straight Turner Cup titles.
In 2007-08, Curadeau was named to the IHL All-Rookie team after scoring 34 goals and 59 points in 70 games. In 2008-09, he led the team with 34 goals and 65 points in 52 games, skating 18 games with Norfolk of the AHL.
Now hes back, assuming he doesnt stick permanently in an AHL camp this fall. And thats at least partly due to Chaulks announcement that he is leaving Fort Wayne to play in Italy this winter, leaving the Komets to cast about for a frontline center.
There was Curadeau, eagerly waving his hand.
I always wanted to come back to Fort Wayne at some point in my career, he said Thursday. To be honest I dont know how long Im going to keep playing, so this year was a great opportunity to come back. Obviously when I heard Colin Chaulk was leaving, giving me the chance to be the first centerman of that team, it really helped my decision.
Helped Komets general manager David Frankes decision, too.
Once Colin made us aware he wouldnt be back, we went after Mathieu very hard, said Franke, whos been in contact with Curadeau since the end of the season. Im very excited about it. (Komets coach) Al (Sims) is very excited about it. These two signings are huge for the Fort Wayne Komets. Theyre as big as any signings weve made this summer.
The return of Schrock, the Komets 2009-10 rookie of the year, adds 20 goals, 168 penalty minutes and yet more speed, grit and hustle to the lineup. Although he sniffed around a few ECHL offers, the temptation to play again for the team he grew up watching – the hold music on his cell phone is the old Memorial Coliseum standby, Gary Glitters Rock and Roll Part Two – proved too tempting in the end.
Early in the summer, there was one (ECHL) team I was pretty close to; I became close to the coach and everything, Schrock says. So I thought very strongly about going to the ECHL, just because of the exposure.
But the more I thought about it, just being able to play in my hometown, it was a good decision to stay here. Theres a comfort level here that Im, well, comfortable with. It was tough at first but, the more I thought about it, Fort Wayne is the place for me.
Part of that, he says, was because Franke wangled him a tryout with Hershey of the AHL, which will give him the exposure hes looking for. And part of it is the challenge of playing in a new league with a team thats shaping up to be a serious contender.
Were going to be a little younger, and losing Chaulk doesnt help, Schrock says. But its very exciting with the guys coming what could happen this year with this team.