The Journal Gazette
Saturday, June 18, 2016 10:02 pm

Komets hoping for key ECHL changes

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

The Komets’ first season in the ECHL’s Western Conference was a successful one as they won the division title in the regular season and reached the conference playoff finals before losing to the eventual-champion Allen Americans.

At the ECHL’s meetings Monday to Friday in Las Vegas, it will be determined if the Komets remain in the West for a second season.

Because the Evansville IceMen are going dark this season, preparing for an announced move to Owensboro, Kentucky, it needs to be determined if divisions will be realigned or playoff formats altered. At least one more team – in Worcester, Massachusetts – is slated to enter the ECHL in 2017-18.

"We lost a team. We don’t have Evansville," Komets president Michael Franke said. "I don’t know how that is going to change everything, but obviously we’re going from 28 to 27 teams this season and I’m assuming there are going to be some changes."

Some things that might at least be discussed include a change of playoff format to include reseeding, so the highest remaining seed always plays the lowest remaining seed; the use of a two-referee system that was utilized only in the playoffs last season; the possibility of video replay of officials’ on-ice calls; and rule changes to the number of veterans or rookies ECHL teams can have on their rosters.

The Komets, who have been in the ECHL since 2012, will be pushing for two changes in particular: increasing the number of reserve players from two to three and the addition of a third goaltender to rosters.

It’s not a surprising stance, considering the Komets, the Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, were so short-handed because of injuries and call-ups that they were barely able to field a legal lineup during a Western road trip last season.

"Having that one extra (skater), in the event if you have major call-ups, at least there’s that other guy that would allow you to be at 14 or 15 players plus a couple goalies. It’s still not ideal but better than searching North America for somebody to hurry up and come in," Franke said, adding that it’s expensive to find a player last minute, fly him in, deal with visa work papers and cut him.

"There’s a tremendous expense in all that stuff. In the end, I think everyone will see there’s a relatively even trade-off doing it the way we’d like to see it done. At least there would be more continuity in your roster."

The Komets will advocate for a third goalie, which would have to be a rookie, since call-ups and injuries particularly affect that position.

"We just think it would be smart to do that … and maybe we can go as far as to say we have that goaltender’s rights and if we want to send them to the (Southern Professional Hockey League), then they could be recalled," Franke said.

Last season, there was such a dearth of players that teams wound up re-signing players and then trading them for nothing, just to alleviate the difficulties of getting work visas for players who would have been signed as free agents.

Note: Derek Lalonde, who coached the Toledo Walleye last season, has been hired by the AHL’s Iowa Wild as coach, according to the Toledo Blade.

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