FORT WAYNE – Chris Auger, an alternate captain with the Komets, sat down with The Journal Gazette’s Justin A. Cohn to discuss the expectations of the team’s demanding fans.
Fort Wayne (15-11-8) is on a 4-0-3 run heading into today’s game at Kalamazoo, Mich.
Question. So, do you read the comments left in the Journal Gazette’s Ice Chips blog (www.journalgazette.net/section/blogs11) or just hear the fans in the stands?
Answer. I’d never personally read the blog before this week, but my family reads it and I’ll get tidbits from them. Out of curiosity from the comments I’d seen, I got on and looked at it and was taken aback by some of the stuff being said about players on the team. It’s an eye opener. The fan support is tremendous in Fort Wayne. But I’d never seen that aspect of it.
Q. Do you hear that kind of stuff – berating of players and such – during games at Memorial Coliseum?
A. There’s a section of the rink in the way end that you can hear them constantly, and they’re pretty ruthless toward our own guys.
At the end of games last year, there weren’t many wins, and the comments directed at players personally, like calling them explicit words, well, you wouldn’t expect to hear that stuff from your own fans. Boos come with the game, but some of the attacks are out of bounds.
Q. You realize there’s a vocal minority that doesn’t necessarily speak for the entire fan base, right?
A. Absolutely, I know that’s true. A lot of guys who haven’t been here as long as me, though, they see and hear stuff and they think our fans hate us and ask, Why? We’re a good team. We’re in the thick of things. On the whole, we have such a good rapport with fans in the community.
Q. Some fans have been particularly hard on Simon Danis-Pepin and captain Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock. What do you say to that?
A. I don’t know what more they want from either one.
Danis-Pepin, they assume because he’s 6-foot-7, he has to be tough as nails and fighting everyone. He’s our best defensive defenseman. He kills power plays, for the full two minutes, against the top lines in the league. We can’t lose that and have him in the penalty box. As for Schrocky, it’s absolutely crazy to demand a guy fight more than he has. The body can’t take it. And as for him being captain, we, the players, wanted him to be the captain. He was the right guy to take over our dressing room. The support he has from us has enabled him to play his game. Harping on him to score more goals is uncalled for, too. He plays the way we need him to.
Q. I was just watching a line brawl from the Federal League. It seems some fans here want that more than wins.
A. It demeans the sport and what we’re here for. The ECHL is a developmental league. Guys in this league want to work our way up to the AHL and then the NHL. It’s not the Southern League or the Federal League, a show on the ice, fighting, pure entertainment. There is an entertainment aspect, but it is our careers and you have to look at the other side. The majority of guys here are young, trying to get to the next level. I don’t think AHL teams are impressed if you start a brawl.
Notes: Komets goalie Ben Meisner was suspended one game by the ECHL for shooting the puck out of play, after allowing a goal in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Kalamazoo. He was ejected from that game. Max Strang will start tonight.