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K's cuts have surprises

The Komets released nine players Sunday, and there certainly were some surprises.

Among those placed on waivers were Paul McIlveen, who had been deemed a potential top-line player, along with early summer signings Kyle Bochek and Matthew Larke.

Also let go were forwards Darick Ste. Marie, Keegan Flaherty and Kevin Walrod, defensemen Derek Foam and William Lacasse, plus goaltender Max Strang.

"I'm really excited with the group of guys we decided to keep around," coach Gary Graham said. "It's a positive group, good attitudes. I'm a big guy on trying to create the right environment and culture in building this new chapter for the hockey club. They want to get better each day."

The Komets retain 20 players on their roster, though with players being released around the league, the faces could still change before Saturday's season opener at Memorial Coliseum against the Toledo Walleye.

Graham acknowledged there may have been some cuts not everyone expected, but he credited other players for competing themselves onto the team. He named, in particular, forwards Chris Auger, John Dunbar and Scott Fleming.

In the preseason – the Komets went 2-1-0 – Auger led the Komets with three goals and five points, Dunbar had three goals and four points and Fleming had one goal and three points.

"It's about chemistry and how you see guys fitting into different roles," Graham said. "I'll be honest with you, Dunbar, Auger and Fleming just had great training camps. Everyone was coming in to earn jobs and those three players did a lot to set themselves apart from other guys. We always preach that the cream rises to the top and you want to reward guys who work hard to make that happen."

It bears mentioning, that salary cap may have been a consideration, too.

"You've got to fit the pieces of the puzzle together," Graham said. "There's the salary cap and you have to get the best group of guys out of what you have."

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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