The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 4:20 pm

K's sign McKenzie; decisions still coming on season

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Brett McKenzie was the ninth leading scorer in the ECHL last season with 60 points in 56 games. He’s the latest piece to join the Komets for the coming season, slated to start Jan. 15 depending on the state of the coronavirus pandemic.

McKenzie, 23, became the 21st player on a Fort Wayne roster packed with standout forwards including Shawn Szydlowski, Marco Roy, Zach Pochiro, Anthony Petruzzelli, Mason Bergh and Matthew Boudens.

Last season, the speedy McKenzie totaled 23 goals; he was behind only Brady Shaw on the roster in goals and points.

“Brett is really a big piece to our puzzle. He solidifies our offense up front,” coach Ben Boudreau said. “Finishing in the top 10 in scoring is just scratching the surface of his potential. As a two-way player, he can do it all. Brett has an infectious personality in the locker room and really complements the current roster.”

A seventh-round draft pick of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks in 2016, McKenzie is entering his third professional season. He played for the Atlanta Gladiators in 2018-19, accruing 16 goals and 45 points in 62 games. He has six games of experience in the higher-level American Hockey League with Providence and Chicago, though he’s scoreless in the AHL.

“This signing is vitally important for the Komets,“ Komets general manager David Franke said. “Brett McKenzie was the second leading scorer last season and he’s a solid hard-working player with the skills and ability to be an elite player in the ECHL. He definitely has a lot of upside to his game and we’ll benefit from that.”

The ECHL’s season is slated to begin Dec. 11 with 13 teams. Another 12, including the Komets, are hoping to start up Jan. 15. Atlanta has opted out of the season.

Meanwhile, the Komets emphasized that no decision has been made on if there will be a season, in the wake of Memorial Coliseum and the Allen County Department of Health approving 3,830 fans for current maximum capacity. 

As I've reported, there are a lot of factors to consider, including that the Komets don't get a portion of all of all ticket sales, namely suite holders; the Komets don't get a portion of parking or concessions; and fans may not necessarily be agreeable to a pod-system of seating that would force them to sit in unfamiliar spots like the 600 level. The team is surveying more than 3,000 season-ticket holders on their interests and concerns for the coming season.

"Decisions regarding return to play for the Komets for the 2020-2021 season will be made over the next six weeks. We are looking at ways to bring Komet hockey back in a safe manner for our fans, players and staff, that have some semblance of financial justification from a business perspective,” Komet president Michael Franke said in a news release.

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