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Komets lose Bennefield for month

The Komets have lost their biggest offseason acquisition for a month, and they’ve lost their biggest player for the week.

Left wing Jesse Bennefield, who the Komets hoped would net about 35 goals this season, is expected to have surgery on his ankle and miss the next month, general manager David Franke said Tuesday.

Defenseman Brent Henley will miss the next three games, at least, because of a knee injury.

Franke said the chances of Bennefield having surgery Thursday are “85 percent” to treat an infection in his ankle, which has hampered him since the start of training camp, as well as to remove a bone spur.

Franke said the infection is not a MRSA staph infection, the type of which cost captain Colin Chaulk 35games in 2008-09.

“They’re just going to clean it up,” Franke said. “I don’t want to get into it more than that. But I will tell you, it’s not MRSA.”

Bennefield, who was acquired in an offseason trade from Wichita for defenseman Craig Cescon, has one goal and three points in four games this season. He had 35 goals and 75 points in 66 games last season.

“There’s no reason to keep hoping it will just get better,” Franke said. “Let’s get it cleaned up and healed up, and then get him back on the ice. We’ve adjusted without Jesse in the lineup (for four games) and when we get him back, it will be like getting a brand new offensive player in the lineup. Injuries are part of the game.”

The Komets (4-4-0) play the Evansville IceMen (6-0-1) on Thursday night, the first of three games in as many nights.

Meanwhile, Henley has been ruled out at least until Thanksgiving because of a strained knee ligament. In six games, the 6-foot-7, 250-pound Henley has one assist and 23 penalty minutes. He missed Saturday’s 7-2 victory at Rapid City, S.D., but this is not the same surgically repaired knee that kept him out all of last season.

“If this were the playoffs, he could probably play this weekend,” Franke said, “but we want to get him back to 100 percent.”

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at