When the Komets open this season, they will do so with their first new captain since 2015, when Jamie Schaafsma arrived.
Schaafsma, 36, and the Komets are now parting ways.
“I’m saddened to say my family and I are not returning to Fort Wayne next year,” Schaafsma wrote in a statement Wednesday. “I would like to thank all my teammates, the fans, the Komets staff, the media and all the great people in the community that made our time in Fort Wayne so special.”
Schaafsma was voted MVP by his teammates last season.
He helped the Komets to the playoffs in each of his four seasons with the Komets, including two appearances in the conference finals. Last season, he totaled 14 goals and 31 points in 67 games, playing wing, center and defense, but was scoreless in the six-game playoff loss to the Toledo Walleye.
“To all my teammates, thank you for making my days at the rink so memorable and enjoyable,” Schaafsma wrote. “We never seemed to achieve our ultimate goal, but I don’t look back with regret, for I know how hard we worked and how difficult it is to win a Kelly Cup. Regretfully, with the new coach putting his stamp on things, I will not be playing or coaching, as they have decided to go in a different direction.”
The Komets’ new coach, Ben Boudreau, played with Schaafsma for a season in Flint of the International Hockey League in 2009-10. There was speculation that Schaafsma could remain as a player/assistant coach, the post he held under Gary Graham, or become a full-time assistant coach.
The Komets have yet to announce if Olivier Legault will return as Boudreau’s assistant.
With the departure of Cody Sol to Slovakia and Schaafsma not being brought back, the Komets’ leadership nucleus will certainly look different.
The Komets haven’t yet signed any players for this season. Should Brady Shaw return, he might be a possible candidate to replace Schaafsma as captain; Shaw was an alternate captain last season. So, too, was Jason Binkley.
“It was a great four years and I will always look back amorously on my time as captain with the Fort Wayne Komets,” wrote Schaafsma, who had won championships in the Central Hockey League and ECHL with Allen, captaining it his final season there.
Reached Wednesday night by The Journal Gazette, Schaafsma deferred comment to his statement but did say he hasn’t decided if he will continue playing or not. He said he’s already received interest from other teams.
“I’m undecided on what I want to do. But it’s nice, considering it’s only word of mouth right now that I’m not playing in Fort Wayne, that I’ve already received a lot of interest from different places,” said Schaafsma, who has a wife and four kids to think about. “But I’m also considering retiring and maybe doing something away from hockey. I don’t really know yet; it all happened quick and there’s a lot of uncertainty.”
Schaafsma totaled 68 goals and 159 point in 238 regular-season games, plus 13 goals and 22 points in 50 playoff games.
Komets general manager David Franke couldn't be reached for comment.