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Samuel Hoffman/The Journal Gazette
Komets coach Al Sims announced his retirement today.

Komets coach Al Sims retires

The Komets are looking for a new coach.

Al Sims, 60, who guided the Komets to five championships between 1993 and 2012, with a stint coaching the NHL's San Jose Sharks in between, has announced his retirement.

"I am announcing my retirement today from the Fort Wayne Komets hockey club," Sims said. "After talking with my family the last month we are all in agreement this is the best course for me. I have to thank the Franke family for the opportunity they afforded me. The last six years have been the best of my coaching career.

"I want to thank all the players who played for me, and all the fans that supported us. It was a very special time in Komets history and I think it will become even more special as time goes on. I wish the Komets and their fans the very best in the future."

Last season, the Komets' first in the ECHL, they went 33-35-4 and missed the postseason. It was the first time in his 10 seasons with the team Sims had missed the playoffs.

Sims won 437 of his 761 regular-season games with the Komets, and he won 72 of 105 playoff games.

"We cannot thank Al enough for his accomplishments during his two different tenures as Komet coach," Komet president Michael Franke said. "It doesn't get any better than this. His tremendous success will be honored by the organization in the near future in a proper way. It's been a great run and we wish Al and his family all the best."

Sims played 516 games in the NHL, mostly with the Boston Bruins, with whom he was Bobby Orr's defense partner, and the Hartford Whalers. He got his start in coaching with the Komets as a player/assistant in 1988 and took the head-coaching reins a year after that.

After winning the 1993 championship of the old IHL, he became an assistant coach with the NHL's Anaheim Ducks for three seasons before coaching the Sharks for one.

He then bounced around the IHL, ECHL and CHL – often missing the playoffs and never making it past the second round – before rejoining the Komets in the reformed IHL during 2007 for three straight titles.

He also won a CHL title with the Komets in 2012, the combination of Sims and Fort Wayne continuing to prove terrific.

But the Komets never found their stride in the ECHL under Sims – it was also their first season as a minor-league affiliate of Anaheim – as players were routinely called up and injuries to key players hindered the chances of success.

The Komets have no players under contract yet for next season and Sims' replacement will have a large say, along with general manager David Franke, in putting together his roster.

But who will that new coach be? The Komets are just beginning the process of making that determination.

Longtime captain Colin Chaulk, who recently retired, covets the job but he is more likely a candidate to be an assistant coach this season.

Some other candidates may include former assistant coach Gary Graham, who won the Southern Professional Hockey League championship with Pensacola this year; former players Brian Gratz and Bruce Richardson, who have coached professionally; and Ryan Mougenel, who took Las Vegas to the ECHL finals in 2012.

"Al Sims' accomplishments in Fort Wayne are quite remarkable," David Franke said. "Who would have thought in 1990 when our family purchased the Komets that 24 years later Coach Al Sims would have won five league championships? Al Sims and Komet legend Ken Ullyot have been the best coaches in Komet history. What a legacy coach Al Sims leaves behind. Thank you, Al."

jcohn@jg.net

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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