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Goodbye, Mr. Sims

He was never one to feel the love, this Al Sims. The man never did anything but win here -- five titles in three different leagues in two different eras -- but in a town that's never been averse to holding its legends close, Sims was the one Komets legend who never seemed to evoke its affections.

I don't know whether that says more about Sims' introverted public nature or the failure of Komet Nation to look past it. I suspect it's a little of both.

In any case, now that he's going, what comes to mind is what a curious exercise it was on game nights to see the crowd go wild when Colin Chaulk or Nick Boucher or one of the favorites showed up on the video screen, and then to note the respectful but muted applause Sims always got. I always thought that was a shame.

Of course, there are worse fates than not being beloved. You can not be beloved and also be a bum, too, but Sims was never that.

He goes out after two unparalleled stints as the Komets coach, one as an ambitious young coach with his future spread out before him, and one as an older, wiser, more savvy man who was noticeably more accommodating with the media, even if that was never his natural inclination. In both incarnations, however, he was the most successful coach the franchise has ever had in its 60-some years of existence.

He walks away, after all, as the winningest coach in Komets history with 437 wins, a 72-33 playoff record and those five titles. He was the man behind the bench when the Komets reached the IHL finals in 1990-91 to restore the glory to a franchise that was all but lost, and he was there when the Komets won three straight titles in IHL the Second, plus another in the Central Hockey League.

That's a heck of a career arc, not to say a heck of a legacy. And whether or not he's actually "retiring" -- something tells me he'll wind up behind somebody else's bench sooner rather than later -- it's a legacy that deserves, at long last, a raucous standing ovation.

Applause, applause.

Ben Smith's blog.