FORT WAYNE – 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.