Ben Boudreau has been hard at work putting together the roster that will attempt to defend the Komets’ Kelly Cup Championship. So far, Boudreau and general manager David Franke have eight players signed for the team’s 70th season, which begins Oct. 23 at Memorial Coliseum against the Wheeling Nailers.
The question still remains: Will Boudreau be the coach?
Boudreau and the Komets were negotiating a new contract even before the Komets cemented their championship July 2 with a 2-1 Game 4 victory over the South Carolina Stingrays at the Coliseum. Boudreau’s existing contract was extended through this month to give the sides time to talk further, and so Boudreau could keep working on this season’s roster, but they still haven’t been able to find common ground.
“There’s no bad blood or ill will or anything,” said Boudreau, 36, who has only two seasons as a head coach under his belt and one playoff run, since the pandemic caused the 2019-20 season to be cancelled before the postseason. “I’m working every day to recruit and do everything as the coach, knowing that it will eventually happen and it’s just a matter of getting the details done.”
Boudreau declined to say if he had other opportunities, though sources have said he’s in the mix for at least one American Hockey League assistant-coaching post.
But Boudreau made it clear Wednesday, he wants to stay in Fort Wayne, where he’s 60-40-13 in the regular season and 9-4 in the postseason as a head coach, after two seasons here as an assistant under Gary Graham.
“Both sides are really trying to work toward a resolution,” Boudreau said. “The interest is shared, it’s mutual, it’s just a matter of finding the right thing. For somebody like myself, I’ve never been in this position before. I’ve always been grinding in a low role or an entry-type role. I feel like going into my eighth year (coaching), after winning a Cup, and it’s something you want to make sure it’s a good fit. Having a second kid on the way, it’s a commitment for the family, too, so we’ve just got to make sure everything works for both sides.”
The Komets’ roster so far includes forwards Anthony Petruzzelli, Zach Pochiro, Oliver Cooper and Shawn Boudrias, defensemen Nick Boka, Blake Siebenaler and D.J. King, plus goaltender Stefanos Lekkas, and Franke is optimistic a deal will get done with Boudreau, too.
“We’re working on it and we’re getting very close, and hopefully by the end of the week we’ll have something done,” Franke said, adding no coaching announcement would come until next week.
It’s not known if the Komets have vetted other candidates. If Boudreau isn’t re-signed then some names to consider might include: assistant coach Olivier Legault, 34, who has been behind the Fort Wayne bench for two seasons; and John Anderson, 64, a former Fort Wayne player who coached the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers for two seasons and won four championships in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves.
But it seems the Komets want Boudreau and he wants the Komets, it’s just a matter of settling on a contract.
“There’s no change of interest. We both want the same thing and that’s for me to be the head coach of the Fort Wayne Komets,” Boudreau said. “It’s just about finding a way to make it work. We’re both working together. It’s not like we’re far apart or anything like that. We’ve communicated extremely well and we both know exactly where we stand.”