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Brian Davidson | Special to The Journal Gazette
The Komets celebrate after Brett Smith scored an empty-net goal in Game 3 against Missouri.

Team’s out-of-town owner also feels playoff pressure

S. Franke

– For Komets majority owner Stephen Franke, this is about as close as it gets to a home game.

His company, Midwest Quality Gloves, is based in Chillicothe, Mo., about a 1 1/2 -hour drive from Independence. He arranged for a bus to bring about 120 of his employees to Game 3 of the Turner Conference finals between the Komets and the Missouri Mavericks.

Many of them came wearing orange, not realizing that the Mavericks’ fans also wear orange. Even the goal and center-ice lines at the Independence Events Center are orange.

“Everybody here is wearing orange,” Franke said. “But you could see and hear our people after (Jean-Michel) Rizk scored in the first period.”

Franke, who is the president and CEO of Midwest Quality Gloves, the largest manufacturer of leather gloves in the country, doesn’t press his employees to root for the Komets.

But Franke’s employees hear him talking about his team so often, and they see the Komets’ championship paraphernalia around the office, so it’s natural that they do support the K’s.

And hockey has infiltrated the way the company is run, in a manner of speaking.

“A lot of them want to be part of the (Komets) team and, frankly, everything we do at the company is about teamwork,” said Franke, 63. “Everyone has to function as a team. It’s part of the synergy with the whole organization.”

Franke went to at least 15 games this season. He’s a hands-off owner – brother Michael is the president and David is the general manager – but he’s not afraid to go say hello to the coaches and players before games.

“This time of year, there’s a lot more pressure on me and everyone,” Franke said. “Normally, when I go to games, there’s no pressure because I can’t do anything to control the outcome. But I feel the pressure in the playoffs.”