Colin Chaulk, arguably the most esteemed leader in the history of the franchise, is returning to the Komets.
He will be in the lineup Friday at Memorial Coliseum, after leaving HC Alleghe in Italy.
"It's going to be very exciting for our fans. We know what kind of leader he is. That will help our team," Komets general manager David Franke said. "And he can be a dominant player on the ice, too."
With the Komets mired in last place in the 18-team Central Hockey League -- their record is 6-15-1 heading into today's game at Dayton, Ohio -- they don't expect any one player to be able to turn the season around.
Not even Chaulk, a center who has helped the Komets to four championships in the United and International Hockey Leagues, and been voted MVP by his teammates four times.
"That's not realistic," Franke said. "We can't treat this as the second coming or as the 'savior.' He's a big piece of the puzzle, but he's just one piece. We're not putting this all on his shoulders to turn this thing around single-handedly."
Chaulk skated for the Komets from 2002-03 to 2005-06 and 2007-08 to last season. With aspirations of being a coach someday, he left the Komets last summer to move back to Toronto, where there are more teaching opportunities, and to play in the abridged European season.
However, his on-ice role with Alleghe, where he played in 2006-07, was not what he envisioned this time around, and his family endured undisclosed off-ice problems.
He had four goals and 19 points in 26 games with Alleghe.
"Things just did not work out in Alleghe," Chaulk wrote in an e-mail. "My family and I love the village. I am sure we will return for a vacation or two in the future. The people we have met from Alleghe are wonderful."
His new contract with the Komets runs through the 2011-12 season, Franke said, and he will be an offseason employee of the team, involved in marketing, promotions and personnel decisions. This is permissible under CHL rules, and allows the Komets to save some money against their topped-out salary cap this season.
"Naturally I am going to feel pressure regardless of the team's record," Chaulk wrote. "I just have to come back and concentrate on my game and try to contribute every night."
The Komets could use Chaulk's scoring (he had 27 goals, 85 points last season), defensive prowess (he's won league-wide Outstanding Defensive Forward awards four times) and his leadership.
The Komets don't currently have a captain, after Guy Dupuis was stripped of his 'C' on Dec. 14. The alternates are Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Leo Thomas.
"I plan to bring the same game I always have brought," wrote Chaulk, 33.
Chaulk has 150 goals and 561 points in 461 games with Fort Wayne.