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vs. Dayton
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Radio: 1190 AM

Franke ‘working on improving’ free-falling K’s

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

As the team has continued to spiral downward – the Komets 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 Monday. “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.”

That isn’t as easy as it sounds, Franke said, because 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 soon.

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

But Franke noted that several of the Komets have been through trials before.

In 2008-09, they won 17 of their last 19 games to rally from fourth to first place in the IHL, then won the Turner Cup. Last season, they had a similar rally, winning 35 of their final 48 games to finish two points off the top playoff seed and then win another Cup.

But the IHL had seven teams last season and the Komets weren’t necessarily faced with the circumstances of this season in the 18-team CHL; missing the playoffs is not only conceivable, it is also probable.