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Komets

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

K’s coach’s job is secure despite team’s struggles

– Al Sims has led the Komets to four playoff championships in his eight seasons coaching the Komets since 1989, winning the IHL’s Turner Cup in 1993, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

But with Fort Wayne, he’s never overseen a stretch as bad as this season’s 5-15-1 start that has the Komets 10 points behind Evansville for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Central Hockey League’s Turner Conference.

One CHL coach has been fired this season – ex-Komets player Kevin Kaminski was axed in Mississippi – but Sims’ job seems safe even if Fort Wayne doesn’t turn this season around.

“We are not going to do anything with the head coaching position,” general manager David Franke said. “We feel very confident in Al. He’s working to try to better the hockey club. He’s trying everything he can.

“No, nothing’s going on with Al Sims’ (job) at all.”

Franke and Sims, who put the roster together, have admitted to misjudging the talent on their team and may have underestimated the CHL’s skill level.

“Looking back, we thought a lot of our players would do better than they have,” said Sims, who coached the NHL’s San Jose Sharks in 1996-97. “(Mathieu) Curadeau, (Derek) Patrosso, (Brandon) Naurato, all of the players we had brought in who had scored in the past, we expected them to score the same at this level and that might have been a mistake. But these guys were proven scorers. That’s all I can say.”

The Komets released Naurato – he will be in the lineup tonight for visiting Dayton – and stripped Guy Dupuis of his captaincy and P.C. Drouin of his alternate captaincy. They’ve acquired Tab Lardner via a trade with Missouri. And more changes will be coming, Franke said.

Sometimes, players on struggling teams begin tuning out the coach, but Sims, 57, doesn’t believe that’s happening. In fact, he has heaped praise on their efforts throughout the last four games of their seven-game losing streak, while also deriding their penchant for penalties and inability to capitalize on scoring chances.

The next three games are against the Gems (13-9-1), coached by Fort Wayne native Brian Gratz, whom the Komets are 0-4-0 against this season.

“I think there’s still time to salvage this,” Franke said. “That’s our opinion, that we still can. But we’ve got to start right now. We can’t fall much farther behind, otherwise, it will take a Herculean task to get back into the playoff race. We do have a lot of games, 45 of them, to play, though.”

jcohn@jg.net

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