The Komets’ players aren’t really sure why, when or how it started.
But they know it’s the best feeling of the night.
After a victory, they go to center ice, put their sticks in the air, clap their hands together and salute the fans.
They always do it at home. Occasionally, they do it on the road, too, but that depends on the circumstances and the contingent of fans from Fort Wayne.
It was something, admittedly, the Komets got away from most of last season, when they languished in last place until February. But when they surged to make the playoffs, the celebration was back, and it’s stayed.
When things were going badly, guys were bee-lining off the ice because they wanted to get the hell out of there, captain Colin Chaulk said.
The roots of the celebration can be traced in Fort Wayne to 2006. They had a player/assistant coach, Bruce Richardson, who had just come back from Germany.
They were doing it there, and I just thought it would be a good thing to bring back, Richardson said.
Several of the Komets have played in Europe – Bobby Chaumont was there just last season – and for many of them, the salute feels familiar.
In England, they go so far as to name a Man of the Match, bring out a case of beer and have a 20-minute-long celebration with the players and fans chanting, former Komets goaltender Kevin Reiter said.
Chaulk had similar experiences in Italy.
You salute the fans and even kind of go over to the stands. You go over to where the die-hards are and do kind of a wave, said Chaulk, whose Komets (4-4-0) play tonight at Evansville (6-0-1).
In North America, though, it’s not always polite to do it on the road. The Komets could get away with it in past seasons at places like Kalamazoo or Port Huron, Mich., because they had such a road following at games in driving distances, but they don’t want to fire up a team In Italy, it’s OK; it’s not a slap in the face, Chaulk said. The other team wouldn’t have taken that as fuel. Here, if someone skated into our zone and gave our fans a little shake – it would give us fuel.
Other hockey teams, even in the NHL, have begun postgame salutes. And Fort Wayne would like to progress their tradition.
It should be after every game, not just a win, Chaulk said. But depending on the game, you get frustrated and want to get out of there. We should do it after every game, but sometimes your emotions are running and the boo birds are out.