FORT WAYNE – The Komets are bound for the ECHL, less than two weeks after winning the CHL’s Presidents’ Cup.
ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna will attend a news conference today at Memorial Coliseum to announce the move, sources confirmed. McKenna will make a similar announcement in Evansville this morning.
The Komets and IceMen played in the CHL the last two seasons.
The ECHL would be the fifth league the Komets have played in, counting the two incarnations of the IHL separately. The Komets have changed leagues four times since 1999, when they left the original IHL for the UHL.
Komets management declined to comment on the move Wednesday. But here is a crash course on the ECHL:
What’s the acronym for? While many still call it the East Coast Hockey League, it changed its name to just ECHL in 2003 to maintain its brand but recognize that it spans from Estero, Fla., to Anchorage, Alaska. It was founded in 1988.
How many teams will be in it? The ECHL had 20 teams last season, split into five divisions. Orlando and San Francisco will be expansion teams next season. But the Chicago Express folded. Expect about 23 teams.
Why are the Komets moving? The biggest reason is to save on travel costs. The ECHL should have five teams within a five-hour drive of Fort Wayne – Kalamazoo, Mich.; Toledo; Cincinnati; Wheeling, W.Va.; and Evansville. In the CHL, the Komets had only Bloomington, Ill., Evansville and Dayton within that range.
Will this rekindle rivalries? Yes, giving Fort Wayne fans the chance again to do what they love – fill other team’s buildings. Namely, Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo. The Komets played against Kalamazoo from 1974 to 2009. The Komets and Toledo were bitter rivals from 1952 to 1986. Games with teams from Cincinnati go back to 1952. Other ECHL teams that have played against the Komets include Elmira, Utah, Colorado, Las Vegas and Orlando.
How is the ECHL different from the CHL? Because of its stronger ties to the NHL, the ECHL is stocked with players typically younger and faster than those in the CHL, though they may be less polished. ECHL teams are allowed only four veteran players of 260 or more games, and goalies can’t be veterans. In the CHL, not including goalies, teams could dress six veterans of 301 or more games.
How much are players paid in the ECHL? The weekly salary cap in the ECHL this season was $12,400 per week, with a salary floor of $8,700. In the CHL, the salary cap was $10,650 per week, plus 50 percent of one exempt player. The salary floor was $8,400 per week.
Would the Komets have an affiliation? While most ECHL teams do, it’s not a requirement, and the Komets will likely maintain their independence in deciding their roster. However, the Columbus Blue Jackets are without an ECHL affiliation. The Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings are both affiliated with Toledo and might look at stocking Fort Wayne, too.
What’s the ECHL overtime format? Like in the CHL, there’s five minutes of 4-on-4, sudden-death play. If it’s still tied, it goes to a five-round shootout.
How many teams make the playoffs? This season, 15 of 20 teams made the playoffs. In the CHL, eight of 14 made it.