FORT WAYNE, Ind. – When it comes to the Fort Wayne Komets getting a National Hockey League affiliate, it seems the old expression “Vegas or bust” applies.
The team ended its affiliation with the Arizona Coyotes in June after a single season and has been looking for a new partner since then, with the Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights being the two teams most often considered as the front-runners to take Arizona’s place.
In an interview with the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel‘s Blake Sebring Tuesday, Komets General Manager David Franke narrowed it down even further, saying he’s expecting to have an answer from Vegas and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, “within two weeks.”
“It’s more in their hands now and I’m just waiting for them to get some paperwork back to me,” Franke told the paper. “They are very receptive and they’ve been helping out, and that’s about all I can say right now.”
It would certainly be a convenient partnership for Chicago, which just lost its ECHL affiliate last May when the Quad City Mallards dissolved. An affiliation would also bring some familiar faces with it, as Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant served as the Komets’ assistant coach in 1998 when the team was in the International Hockey League.
Also, the Wolves’ Director of Hockey Operations, Gene Ubriaco, can often be seen at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum taking a look at the latest players the ECHL has to offer.
Not everyone would be on board with the move, however, as an affiliation would likely cost the Komets goalie Michael Houser, who became a fan favorite last season. Franke says an affiliation would probably push Houser into a backup position, which he adds would probably cause Houser to explore opportunities elsewhere.
We’ll keep you updated on the potential for a new affiliation in the Jungle next season.