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Sims timeline
Al Sims’ coaching career with Komets:
1988: Makes debut as player/assistant coach.
1989: Named head coach
1991: Reaches IHL finals
1993: Wins IHL championship with undefeated playoff run. Takes Coach of the Year, then accepts position as assistant with Anaheim of NHL
2007: Returns to coach Komets in re-formed IHL
2008: Wins Coach of Year and championship
2009: Becomes winningest coach in franchise history with 272; wins championship
2010: Wins third straight championship
2012: Wins fifth division title with Komets and CHL championship

Who could be on short list to replace Sims?

– If Komets general manager David Franke knows who he wants to be his next head coach, he’s keeping it to himself.

“We’re not going to get into who will be a candidate. We haven’t even got that far in the process anyway, but I’m not going to go the route of making it public,” Franke said after Al Sims retired Monday as the winningest coach in franchise history, with five Cups on his résumé.

Here are some potential candidates for the Komets’ coaching vacancy:

Colin Chaulk

The recently retired, five-time MVP of the Komets has been like a second coach for years. At 36, and without head-coaching experience, the Komets are likely to only consider him as an assistant coach. Further complicating the situation is Chaulk’s health; he’s having muscle weakness and nerve problems, the very issues that forced him to retire.

Gary Graham

As a rookie head coach, the 34-year-old native of Fort Wayne led Pensacola of the Southern Professional Hockey League to a championship this year. His playing career didn’t go far – he made it only to juniors – but he’s extremely driven and it showed as a Komets assistant.

Brian Gratz

A native of Fort Wayne, Gratz, 31, started out coaching in the Mid-American and Eastern Professional Hockey Leagues. With limited resources, he fared OK with Dayton of the CHL (55-58-19) and last season he went 28-36-2 with Bloomington of the CHL.

Kevin Kaminski

It’s unlikely the Komets would go this direction because they’ve had their chances before, but the 44-year-old former Komets and NHL player was a tough player and his teams (he’s currently with Louisiana of the SPHL) have taken on that identity.

Ryan Mougenel

He spent the last four seasons with Las Vegas of the ECHL – reaching the finals in 2012 – and his teams have all had winning records. Mougenel, 37, would put an exciting team on the ice.

Greg Pankewicz

He played briefly in the NHL and has been an assistant coach with Colorado of the ECHL for the last four years, apprenticing behind Chris Stewart, who has won three professional championships. He’s pretty ensconced in Colorado, so Pankewicz, 42, might be tough to pry away.

Bruce Richardson

In one season with the Komets – 2006-07 – Richardson gained the respect of the fans and the organization. As a rookie head coach with Scotland’s Braehead Clan, he was Coach of the Year. The last two seasons, he has coached the Chateauguay Patriots Midget AAA team. Richardson, 35, is extremely driven and passionate.

And some others

Steve Martinson just won a CHL title with Allen and would be popular with fans who like exciting, physical hockey. … Kevin McLelland of Wichita in the CHL is as steady as they come. … Vince Williams coached Trenton before it folded. … Marty Raymond is in Europe, but he was a successful coach with Bakersfield of the ECHL before that.

Justin A. Cohn is a writer for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1997. He can be reached by email jcohn@jg.net; phone, 461-8429; or fax 461-8648.

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