FORT WAYNE – Komets center Colin Chaulk has the title of player/assistant coach now, but its not the first time.
He had that role under former Komets coach Greg Puhalski, too, before Chaulk left to play in Italy in 2006-07.
And Chaulk doesnt expect his role to be greatly different this season in the ECHL than it was last season in the CHL, where the Komets won the championship, even though full-time assistant coach Gary Graham has now left to become head coach of Pensacola in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
I dont think its really a big deal, said Chaulk, who does want to be a head coach someday. Id been helping out Al and Gary for the last (several) years anyway, kind of being an extra guy between (head coach Al Sims) and the team. Ill do the same. Maybe working with the video will be a little extra work, but Im excited for the challenge.
Chaulk, 35, helped organize the workouts among Komets players before training camp, and he was on the bench assisting Sims in the first of two exhibition games last weekend when the Komets lost 6-3 to Evansville. He was on the ice when the Komets won 2-1 in overtime.
Chaulk, who has led the Komets to five championships since 2003, including four in the last five years, remains Fort Waynes captain.
Theres not a whole lot different, and I want him focused on his game and focused on his on-ice performance, Sims said of Chaulk. His assistant coaching is going to come second to that. But hes in there, were drawing up plays for practice and hes going to be helping out that way. And hes going to do some video work for us, like Gary Graham did, and that will help the team as well. Hes going to get his feet wet in all parts of coaching.
The video work may be the biggest change, as opposed to Chaulks last stint as a player assistant. Because of technological advances, teams now have access to all the videos of games from around the league as soon as they are played and can be broken down.
Of course, Chaulks rapport with his teammates will remain essential. He is a five-time team MVP and he had 22 goals and 61 points in 60 games last season in the CHL.
Only eight players are back from last seasons team, but Sims said chemistry hasnt been an issue.
Its really good, he said. Its been a good room for a few years now, so there havent been any problems and most of the new guys fit right in.
Note: Komets general manager David Franke said he has spoken with the American Hockey Leagues Toronto Marlies about sending defensemen to Fort Wayne, but declined their offer of any forwards because they dont have room with players expected to come from Norfolk.