FORT WAYNE – When the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs announced they were suspending operations June 9, the Komets made it a priority to grab some of the best players from the CHL champions.
On Wednesday, they landed two of them: forward Brett Smith and defenseman Jamie Milam.
These are solid players coming right off a championship, Komets general manager David Franke said. They know what it takes to win.
Smith, 29, captained the Mudbugs last season, and he tallied 20 goals and 50 points in 57 games. Franke compared him to former Komets forward Sean Venedam, who was instrumental in the 2003 UHL championship.
Smith said he had plenty of suitors but wanted to play near his Ontario home, in front of large crowds.
Theres a great fan base in Fort Wayne, and that was really appealing, Smith said. They led the league in attendance last season (with 7,460 fans per game). Were not doing it for millions of dollars, so you want fans who love winning and are passionate. I cant wait to put on that Komets jersey and get out there.
Smith is vocal in the local room but believes its important to lead by example on the ice, similar to Komets captain Colin Chaulk. Hes likely to end up an alternate captain.
Winning the championship really was (bittersweet), Smith said. We put it on the burner and got the job done and enjoyed it. After being in Shreveport (six of the last seven) seasons, then seeing it all washed away, its sad and brought a tear to my eye. Did I want to finish my career in Shreveport? Yeah. But Im excited to be in Fort Wayne.
Milam, 27, played 13 games with the Komets as a rookie in 2006, when he was a forward, scoring six goals and 12 points in 13 games.
Now a defenseman – he led CHL blue-liners with 17 goals, and he had 48 points last season. The native of Lake Orion, Mich., fills the void left by the retirement of Guy Dupuis.
He couldnt be reached for comment.
Milam is a naturally gifted offensive defenseman, and hes pretty solid defensively, also, Franke said. He probably has one of the hardest, if not the hardest, shots in the league.
If we can re-sign (all-star defenseman) Frankie DeAngelis, then well have ourselves a very good 1-2 combo on the power play.
The Komets have signed nine players for their 60th season, including forwards Chaulk, P.C. Drouin, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, Chris Auger and Todd McIlrath, defenseman Craig Cescon and goaltender Nick Boucher.
Note: Tim Hoke, the Komets longtime TV broadcaster, suffered ventricular fibrillation Sunday.
According to his wife, Kristina, Hoke is not showing signs of brain activity and is showing signs of neurological damage, but more will be known later in the week. Hoke, 66, began calling games in 1989 and retired after last season.