FORT WAYNE – Forty-five minutes before the drop of the puck, and here the faithful come, dressed like either an Arizona sunset or a living tribute to the Creamsicle.
It’s a full-on orange onslaught, same as any other night when the Komets are in the house: Men in Nick Boucher jerseys, women in Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock jerseys, a guy in an orange Syracuse sweatshirt, just trying to fit in. One guy’s even gone throwback, donning a black shirt with Burton across the shoulder blades.
Surely they’ve all come to see the hoisting of the Presidents’ Cup, crossing their fingers that this is it. For sure, though, they might be seeing the last days of the Komets in the CHL.
There is, after all, a whole lot of well-grounded speculation out there that the Komets and the ECHL are about to consummate a relationship for next winter. And if so well, the fans seem OK with that to greater or lesser degrees.
In the lower concourse is 22-year-old Andrew Thompson, a Komet regular (He goes to every game, says his buddy Jared Fogle) who’s wearing a Nick Boucher CHL All-Star jersey.
Doesn’t stop him from lighting up when you bring up the whole ECHL thing.
I’m actually excited, he said. If we move, some of the talent will probably be better. And if we get better talent, we get a better team, and the players will have a better chance. They’ll be more recognized in a higher league. I do see a lot more people in the ECHL. I do see players in the ECHL moving up to higher leagues.
Others see something else: The revival of ancient rivalries, like Kalamazoo, Toledo, Cincinnati.
Here, for instance, is Sean Hayes, a 45-year-old Harding grad who’s been coming to Komets games since his high school days.
I guess it’s good and bad, says Hayes, who’s wearing a Schrock jersey covered with a hieroglyphic scrawl of autographs.
I can see some of the positives, because then we would start playing some of the older teams we used to play, like some of the Michigan teams we don’t play anymore.
So I think it might be a good thing, I guess, just because they’ve been saying a lot of bad stuff about this league. There’s so much controversy going on (with the CHL). But we’ll see.