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Laura J. Gardner/The Journal Gazette
Gary Graham with the Komets in 2010

Dissecting the coaching status

I wish I could tell you who some of the other finalists for the Komets' coaching job are, but the team is being highly secretive this time.

And I think that's a mistake.

Since Gary Graham is the only acknowledged candidate, and since the Komets won't confirm or deny that he's the one who got a contract offer this week, it leads us all (reporters, fans, players) to dissect him and only him.

And if it's not him? I guess it will just make us all look a little silly.

If it's not Graham, I don't see the harm in telling us a little about the candidate. Age? Has he coached at Memorial Coliseum before? What about him did they like?

If nothing else, it would test the waters with the fans and players, who seem as in the dark as the rest of us.

Maybe I'm analyzing it too much. Maybe it is Graham, the Fort Wayne native and former Komets assistant. After all, if it wasn't him, why wouldn't he have just said he hasn't received an offer? (By the way, Graham doesn't even know who the other candidates have been.)

OK, let's talk about Graham a little bit. A lot of you seem very down on the idea of him being the next Komets coach. I would be totally fine with him, were I a ticket holder.

No, he doesn't have a ton of experience, but I know this about Graham: He will outwork everyone.

I have mentioned many times how he started as an unpaid assistant with the Komets. Imagine the brass it took for him to go to the Komets and basically plead with them to bring him on board, then commute back and forth to Indianapolis, where he was coaching a junior team, without getting a paycheck.

He became an integral part of the Komets, particularly with his video work. He helped them to three titles and, then, won a Southern Professional League Championship last season.

For those who were down on Al Sims because he was older and, in the opinion of some, not as motivated as he used to be, Graham will be the antithesis of that.

Coaching at the AA level is about hard work. It's about recruiting hard, breaking down opponents, managing personalities, running tough, educational practices, breaking down video and Graham would be good at all of these.

I'm not saying he's the best candidate out there. But I think he would be a good coach in Fort Wayne, where he knows the expectations.

I don't buy that he couldn't recruit at the ECHL level; players want to play in Fort Wayne and recruiting is about money above all else.

It does bear noting that Anaheim might not love Graham because of his inexperience. But I'm not convinced they loved Sims either, and he'd been around forever.

So, anyway, have an open mind if it's Graham.

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