FORT WAYNE – Despite helping the Komets to championships in each of the previous three years, the Komets left defenseman Brandon Warner off the playoff roster last spring.
But they made the native of Huntertown a promise: He could come to training camp and compete for a spot this fall if he wanted to do so.
Warner accepted, and he will be among 30 players vying for about 20 spots when training camp opens Oct. 10.
He knows he’s got to earn his spot on the team, Komets general manager David Franke said.
He thought about (our offer) over the summer and we met a couple weeks ago, and he understands what could happen. If he makes the team, he has to do so by making the team. He’s been skating quite a bit this summer.
Warner, 28, has 22 goals, 73 points and 174 penalty minutes in 191 games with the Komets, with whom he won three IHL championships.
My mentality is to do anything I can to make the team, Warner said.
I need the job to support my family. I’ve got a lot of things in the back of my mind, driving me. There’s the anger from last year, and I want to prove to (coach Al Sims) and to David that I can play here.
The 6-foot, 175-pound Warner has been limited by injuries. Last season, he had five goals and 17 points in 43 games while injuring his shoulder.
He’s got to stay healthy; that would help (his cause), Franke said. But more than anything, he’s got to play his game. He’s got to play responsible in his own end, move the puck well and take advantage of the offensive opportunities, if he gets them.
Brandon has been working out and he put on about 10 pounds, and he’s got the determination that he’s going to make the team, but we have to see how it all goes, Franke said.
The Komets had hoped to bring about 35 players to training camp, but CHL rules prohibit them from having more than 30 at any one time. They have one spot left, and it will go to a goaltender, said Franke, who has already signed 17 forwards, 10 defensemen and two goalies.
The Komets will open their 60th season Oct. 22 at Memorial Coliseum against the Evansville IceMen.