The ECHL’s deadline to opt in or out of this season is looming – it comes Monday – but the Komets continue to lobby for more time.
“We’re attempting avenues to find more time to make a decision,” Komets president Michael Franke said today. “We want to be able to make a positive decision for a season and, as you know, we quite frankly cannot do that by Monday.”
To push back the deadline, it would require the approval of the ECHL’s Board of Governors and the Professional Hockey Players’ association, parties set to speak Monday.
“I would assume that their thinking would be along our lines in regard to the fact that we need to do anything we can to get a season in,” Franke said.
The trend of the coronavirus pandemic has been bad in Indiana, so much so that public gatherings are currently limited to 100 people. More problematic for the Komets is that they cannot even apply to the Allen County Department of Health for greater capacity until Dec. 16, assuming their first game remains scheduled for Jan. 15.
The Department of Health approved 3,830 fans in October, but even that number was well below the approximately 4,500 fans the Komets felt they needed to break even financially.
The Komets have played annually since 1952-53, though they haven’t skated since March 11, when they had 10 games remaining in the regular season and led the ECHL’s 26 teams with average attendance of 8,090.
Their roster for this season seems loaded – they have 21 players signed, highlighted by Shawn Szydlowski, Marco Roy, Brett McKenzie, Zach Pochiro, A.J. Jenks and Anthony Petruzzelli – and they have an affiliation agreement with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.
Thirteen ECHL teams are slated to begin play Dec. 11, including division rivals Indy and Wheeling, assuming health restrictions don’t thwart that. Those teams are hoping to play 72 games each.
Eight teams have opted out of the season, including Atlanta, Norfolk and the entire North Division – Newfoundland, Reading, Brampton, Maine, Adirondack and Worcester.
That leaves five teams in limbo: Fort Wayne, Toledo, Kalamazoo, Cincinnati and Idaho, all targeting 62-game seasons. There has been a push from some to start play in February to provide time for the pandemic to settle down, for a vaccine to become available and for more government stimulus money as most teams are considered small businesses.
The Komets get no share of parking or concessions revenue from Memorial Coliseum. And the Komets also don’t profit off suite tickets, though those spectators, of course, count against the Department of Health’s capacity restrictions.