FORT WAYNE – His reputation as the greatest leader in the 61-year history of the Komets franchise had already been secured. But his health wouldnt let him keep playing.
Colin Chaulk decided Friday to end a playing career that included five championships with Fort Wayne: the 2003 UHL championship, IHL championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and the 2012 CHL.
I would like to thank my family. Theyve supported me all these years. And the fans and the Franke family (which owns the Komets). Its a great thing in Fort Wayne, said Chaulk, 36. The Komets have a lot of support, and I want to thank everybody. It was a wonderful place to play, and we had a lot of success and I hope it continues.
In 578 regular-season games with the Komets, Chaulk had 184 goals and 684 points. Only Len Thornson and Eddie Long scored more points for Fort Wayne.
Obviously, what he did on the ice was widely known. He was a playmaker. He was the quarterback on our power play. But not many people have had the privilege of being in the locker room with him, goaltender Nick Boucher said. Ive played with a lot of captains. I can say unequivocally he was the best I played for.
Chaulk, whose career spanned 15 seasons, is famous for mantras like, Tired is for losers, leading the Komets back from 3-1 series deficits in the playoffs (including the 2008 finals) and for battling through injuries.
In his team-record 99 playoff games, he had 33 goals and 102 points.
In our 23 years of owning the club, theres only one other player respected as much by his teammates and his opponents, and that was Colin Chin, general manager David Franke said. They both commanded the respect of the players because they could do it on the ice and backed it up on the ice and were great leaders and they both led us to championships.
In 2008-09, a MRSA staph infection in Chaulks foot cost him 35 games and almost his career. He got another staph infection in his other foot last December. Doctors believed they had it under control, but it came back with a 103-degree fever and he lost consciousness and was hospitalized.
Chaulk has since had problems with his brachial plexus and phrenic nerve, parts of the spine that control movement of the limbs and breathing. He was limited to 28 games last season, though he tried to play through the problems.
With the atrophy thats gone on in my shoulder, its hard to press the home key on my iPhone. I should have never returned to play when I did, but I thought I could contribute, said Chaulk, adding theres no timetable for his full recovery. I had a great career, and I need to get healthy. Im not healthy right now.
Chaulk, a player/assistant coach last season, wants to remain in hockey as a coach, preferably at the professional level, and he has already received inquiries.
Ive had more opportunities in the past two weeks, as I talk to people in my inner circle, than I have in 10 years. Chaulk said.
Franke said the team is still evaluating the future of head coach Al Sims, who just completed his sixth consecutive season but missed the playoffs.
Im hopeful Colin will remain a part of the franchise, Franke said. Thats what Id like to see. Its something well have to figure out.