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Komets brace for lockout's end

After 113 days, the NHL lockout ended today.

Fort Wayne, the AA-level affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, is bracing for the effect it will have on the Komets' roster.

The ECHL's Komets have seven players contracted to either the Ducks or their American Hockey League affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, and all of them could conceivably be called up as the Ducks stock a truncated training camp while the Admirals and Komets continue play in their respective leagues.

Those players with Fort Wayne are forwards Corey Elkins, Garrett Klotz, Luca Caputi (injured shoulder) and Matt Kennedy (injured groin), defensemen Nick Schaus and Ryan Hegarty, plus goaltender Marco Cousineau.

Goaltender Kevin Reiter is under contract with the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers, an affiliate of the New York Islanders, and could be called up, too.

And if the AHL teams get too strapped for players, any of the Komets' other players could get calls, too.

"It'll affect us. It will affect every team in the league. It will affect our league, the CHL, the (Southern Professional Hockey League) and even the Federal League," said Komets general manager David Franke, whose team leads the Orlando Solar Bears 1-0 in the first period at Memorial Coliseum.

"There will be a ripple effect all the way through. There will probably be some stuff going on tomorrow but as the week goes along, there will probably be more transactions. Teams that heavily loaded with contracted players, they will be the ones that take the big hit."

But in a sense, the Komets may be better positioned for the impending chaos than most ECHL teams. Because it didn't ink its affiliation until late in the offseason, the bulk of the Fort Wayne's marquee players were sought out and signed solely by it, unlike, say, Cincinnati, which has 15 players under higher-level contracts.

"Fortunately, we put our team together thinking they would play all year (without an affiliation) and we lost Chris Auger (to a knee injury), but out of that original group, he's the only player we've lost," Franke said. "We'll just have to see what happens."

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 jcohn@jg.net.

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