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K's looking to change

For about a month, the Komets have been suggesting major changes were imminent.

As the team has continued to spiral downward -- they have a Central Hockey League-worst record of 5-15-1 and have lost seven in a row -- fans have grown restless waiting for the huge shakeup.

"We're working on improving the club," general manager David Franke said. "Nothing's set to be announced now. We're not really real close on anything, but we are out there looking and talking to teams in the league, looking at players who might be coming back from Europe. But nothing is in the hopper immediately."

To be clear, the Komets do not view firing coach Al Sims, who led the Komets to the last three championships of the IHL, as an option.

And Franke doesn't want to make changes just for the sake of making changes.

"We don't want to trade a number for another number," he said. "We want to upgrade."

And that isn't as easy as it sounds, since the Komets are already at the ceiling of the salary cap and need to find moves that will work financially.

"We're just working on it," he said, "and doing the best we can. We can't take on more money because of the cap and we have to keep working to make a deal that won't just change the complexion of the hockey club, but make it better."

The Komets have done some tweaking in recent weeks, stripping Guy Dupuis of the captaincy and P.C. Drouin of the alternate captaincy, bringing in Tab Lardner, who has one goal in seven games, and releasing Brandon Naurato, who had two goals and six points in 19 games.

In Naurato's first game with Dayton, Saturday, he had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 victory against the Komets.

His Gems (13-9-1) will play at Memorial Coliseum again on Wednesday.

It's unclear whether the Komets' roster will look drastically different by then -- "My phone could ring," Franke said, "at any moment" -- but the team is determined to make it happen sometime soon.

With 45 games remaining in the regular season, and the Komets 10 points back of Evansville for the final playoff spot in the conference, the team had better make changes soon.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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