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  • File photo Gary Graham, the fourth winningest coach in Komets history, draws up a play at practice. 

Monday, May 13, 2019 4:50 pm

Graham responds to being fired as coach of K's

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Gary Graham was surprisingly upbeat today after it was announced he’d been fired as coach of the Komets. Here’s what he had to say in an interview this afternoon:

“It’s been had a heck of a run here. We’ve had a lot of success in the ECHL. I would have loved to have won a championship. That was the goal and where I’ll leave most disappointed, in not being able to get the Kelly Cup to Fort Wayne. Getting to the conference finals twice in three years is something I’ll look back on and wonder what could have been. That’s not to take away from a lot of the success the players had while they were here. My record is a direct correlation to the all of the sacrifice and work that the players put in. We had a great run over the last six years with a lot of talented players that I was fortunate to have coached.”

“You got to remember that when I took over, it was a last place team with no affiliation. To take it to where it’s been, and to have had some consistency, I can leave with my head held high.”

“I can’t wait to get on to the next coaching job. I want to get going right away. That was the earliest I’ve ever been knocked out of the playoffs in my career, so it’s been stinging. I’ve had way too much free time on my hands and I don’t like it at all. I’m looking forward to what’s next and the Komets fans can look forward to what’s next, too. That’s the nature of the game. There are going to be changes. As a coach, you know how hard it is on the other side when you have to make trades or cuts. Al Sims always taught me, and I learned a lot from him, ‘You’re not really a head coach until you’ve been let go and moved in a different direction.’”

“Both sides agree right now that this is maybe the best thing for both sides. The Franke family, as long as they own the team, the city is going to enjoy nothing but success. That’s the way it’s going to be. They’ve given me a stage here as a young coach to put together some good teams. They have me all the resources available that they could to let that happen.”

“For me, it’s going to be whatever’s next. You have to attack that next thing. Full of optimism and there’s no looking back. Once a Komet, always a Komet. If I can’t win a Kelly Cup wherever I end up, I hope they do and I really mean that. The city deserves one. I want to take a chance to really thank Kaleigh Schrock and Jamie Schaafsma, the captains I’ve had over the years. I’ve been very fortunate. And to have Ben Boudreau and Olivier Legault, it’s been a tight coaching staff the last couple of years and that’s made it fun to come to the rink. It’s definitely made me better as a coach.”

jcohn@jg.net