FORT WAYNE – The Komets would like Simon Danis-Pepin to aid the offense – he’ll see time running the point on the power play this season – but the 25-year-old defenseman knows that can’t be his top priority.
Not when he’s 6-foot-7, 240 pounds.
First and foremost, my main point is to be a solid defenseman, play solid in my own zone, hit and give my goalies some room to protect the net, said Danis-Pepin, whose Komets (0-1-2) tonight play the first of three straight games at Las Vegas (2-4-0).
Whatever I can bring offensively to support the attack is a bonus, but I think for every defenseman on this team, the first (concern) should be our own zone.
Danis-Pepin, a second-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2006, was one of the most important offseason acquisitions. Fort Wayne sent all-star defenseman Daniel Maggio to San Francisco for his rights.
For a place that hadn’t had hockey in a while, the fans supported well and it was a great place to play, Danis-Pepin said of playing for the Bulls at the Cow Palace, the first home of the San Jose Sharks, who are the Bulls’ parent club.
He had three goals and 10 points in 61 games for the Bulls, but he has also played 75 games in the American Hockey League, scoring two goals and 12 points for Rockford.
It was a point of emphasis for the Komets to get bigger on the back end this season, and they have with Danis-Pepin, Nick Tuzzolino (6-6, 225 pounds) and Nik Pokulok (6-5, 225).
We’ve got some big bodies and we have to make sure we use them every game, Danis-Pepin said. It makes a big difference when we use our big bodies, use our physicality in games, because it gives room for our forwards to skate around.
On Thursday, goaltender Andrey Makarov, 20, was assigned by the Buffalo Sabres to the Komets. Last season, he was 37-17-5 with a 2.62 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage for his junior team, Saskatoon, of the Western Hockey League.
To make room, the Komets returned goalie Max Strang to Bloomington of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
But goaltending hasn’t been the Komets’ problem this season; consistency has, as they’ve coughed up leads in every game.
We’re disappointed with having no wins, but we’re seeing good things, said Danis-Pepin, whose father, Rick Pepin, played for the Komets from 1978 to 1980. We have to focus on the positives – and I’m seeing a lot of it – and we just have to be consistent for 60 minutes. Once we figure that out, we’ll be a threat.