They Said It - Komets Head Coach Al Sims Sits Down for a Q & A
After winning three straight championships, the head coach of the Fort Wayne Komets looks ahead to what is in store for his team and looks at the huge opening night showdown for the Komets against the Rapid City Rush.
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The tradition of the Komets is certainly well known and a championship is what is expected, do you feel that pressure as the season goes on?
I think every coach has a goal to win a championship at the start of the season. In Fort Wayne the last three years we have been very fortunate to win the championship and I think our fans expect effort and hard play every game and with our support more times than not the players give that to them. Our goal is to give our fans entertainment every home game win or lose we want them to go home thinking I just had a great time at the Komets game. Pressure to win is part of every coach's job and as my own career can attest to winning championships is not easy.
How difficult has the transition into the CHL been for the team, what has been some of the bigger obstacles?
It has been an easy transition to the CHL especially once the CBA was done. Vets are almost the same as we had in the IHL and the biggest difference is the salary cap and fitting everyone we wanted in. The toughest part was turning down some very good players because we just didn't have room for them under the cap.
You had to make some tough decisions with some of your core players and who to bring back and who to part ways with, what went into those evaluations?
A lot of tough decisions were made for us with Shafranov, Bertram and Hukalo all retiring and all vets. The other change was Colin Chaulk leaving for Italy which was something we did not expect. With 10 players back from last year’s team we have a good core coming back for this year.
The Komets open their season versus the CHL Champion Rapid City Rush, how big of a game will that be or is it just 1 of 66?
This is a huge game for us on opening night. Battle of the champions will be played before a sellout crowd and it will be for bragging rights for sure. It will be great for the first game to showcase the two leagues and their champions.
With winning three straight titles, does that culture and attitude from the returning players work its way through the locker room to the new players?
Our veterans the last three years and have been the key to our success along with great play from our youngsters. Our vets carry the message of what’s expected here in Fort Wayne the attitude and the effort that’s needed every night to achieve our goals. Players come to Fort Wayne for one reason they want to win a championship and play before 8300 people every night.
What challenges will there be this season in getting to know the playing style of the new competition?
It will be a lot more work for me and my asst. Gary Graham preparing scouting reports for 16 teams instead of six and providing video as well. We are very excited about the new league and the challenge that faces us, winning another championship would silence a lot of critics. We know going out every night other teams are going to be sky high to beat us because we have a reputation as winners and its earned and it comes with the territory. We have to be ready for the new challenges.
What has been your proudest moment as a head coach?
My proudest moment as a head Coach was watching the players win their 3rd straight championship and the guys celebrating after a long hard season, it’s all about the players and I was very proud of them.
The fans in Fort Wayne are clearly some of the best in hockey, how invigorating does that make it to go to the rink in that city each day?
Our fans are the greatest in minor hockey. It makes my job so much easier to get players up for home games and likewise the players always give our fans their best. Our guys get very excited about playing and coming to the rink knowing the following they have in this city.