His reputation as the greatest leader in the 61-year history of the Komets franchise was secured. But his health wasn't optimal enough to continue.
So captain Colin Chaulk decided Friday to end a playing career that included five championships with Fort Wayne -- the UHL championship in 2003, IHL championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and the CHL title of 2012.
"I would like to thank my family. They've supported me all these years. And the fans and the Franke family (which owns the Komets). It's a great thing in Fort Wayne," said Chaulk, 36. "The Komets have a lot of support and I want to thank everybody. It was a wonderful place to play and we had a lot of success and I hope it continues."
In 578 games with the Komets, Chaulk totaled 184 goals and 684 points. Only Len Thornson and Eddie Long scored more points for Fort Wayne.
"Obviously, what he did on the ice was widely known. He was a playmaker. He was the quarterback on our power play. But not many people have the privilege of being in the locker room with him," said goaltender Nick Boucher, who butted heads with Chaulk the first two years they played together. "I've played with a lot of captains. I can say unequivocally he was the best I played for.
"He's one of the rare guys that has the ability to demand respect from players. I would love to have that quality. But I don't. It's just something you have or you don't. He has that quality where he's able to get guys to buy in. He was a guy who would ask something of you but he'd do it himself.… I've played with skilled captains, but they didn't want to do it themselves. He had a strong personality and was a skilled player, but he wasn't above doing the third-line greasy hockey, the things he was preaching needed to be done."
Chaulk became famous in these parts for mantras such as, "Tired is for losers," and for battling through injuries.
In 2008-09, a MRSA staph infection in his foot cost him 35 games and almost his career.
It seemed extraordinarily bad luck when he got another staph infection in his other foot last December. Doctors believed they had it under control, but it came back and he suddenly had 103 fever, lost consciousness and was taken to a local hospital Jan. 11.
Chaulk has since had problems with his brachial plexus and phrenic nerve, parts of the spine that control movement of the limbs and breathing. He was limited to 28 games, including a short stint in which he tried to play despite those problems.
"With the atrophy that's gone on in my shoulder, it's hard to press the home key on my iPhone. Sometimes it works, but it's extremely. I should have never returned to play when I did., but I thought I could contribute," said Chaulk, adding there's no timetable for his full recovery; it could take years.
"I had a great career and I need to get healthy. I'm not healthy right now."
Chaulk, a player/assistant coach last season, wants to remain in hockey as a coach, preferably at the professional level, and he's received several inquiries recently.
"I've had more opportunities in the past two weeks, as I talk to people in my inner circle, than I have in 10 years. Everybody thought I would be playing for the Komets in the fall," Chaulk said.
"Some are off the wall, but it's an exciting time for me. I want to coach. I know that's what I want to do. It's just something I need to wait and see what's best for me and for my family."
The Komets have yet to make any determination about the future of coach Al Sims, who led Fort Wayne during the last six seasons but missed the playoffs this year.
Chaulk doesn't know whether he would be considered as a potential replacement, and it's possible he'd return as an assistant. The Komets don't have a habit of hiring head coaches without head-coaching experience.
"They're working through what they want to do and we're kind of in that negotiating phase. Everyone knows where they are at," Chaulk said.