Many hockey fans remember hearing a "loonie," slang for the Canadian dollar coin, was buried under the center faceoff circle before the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Canada won both the women's and men's gold medals that year, the men for the first time in 50 years. The loonie was dug up after the games, presented to Wayne Gretzky and is now on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, part of superstitious hockey lore.
The Komets have their own version of the loonie, a lucky chip that has come back into prominence this year.
Dave Desmonds, 50, the father of former Komets co-equipment manager Andy Desmonds and the uncle of former Komets defenseman Bobby Phillips, has been a Komets fan for more than 40 years. Eight years ago, he got married at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, and after the ceremony, he purchased a $5 poker chip he has carried ever since.
Though it is now chipped and looks more like a square than a circle, Dave swears it has been lucky for him, and he has let the chip out of his possession only four times. That said, there's a twist with the fourth and most recent time.
The first time was May 8, 2008, when the Komets trailed Port Huron three games to one in the Turner Cup Finals.
"I told Andy, `You guys need some luck. You need to carry my lucky poker chip,' and I handed it to him," Dave said.
The Komets made history by rallying to force a Game 7 and then won that in triple overtime.
The second time Dave gave up the chip was April 24, 2009, when the Komets and Kalamazoo Wings were tied 2-2 in the first round of the playoffs.
"I said, `Andy, do you want the chip?' " Dave said. "He said, `Yes.' "
That time the Komets won Game 5 in overtime, thanks to 52 shots, and the next night scored three third-period goals on the road to rally and knock out the Wings. Andy didn't give the chip back until after the Komets beat Muskegon 4-1 in the Turner Cup Finals.
The legend of the lucky chip continued to grow. When the Komets fell behind Port Huron 3-1 in the first round in 2010, Andy asked Dave for the chip. He wasn't the only one, as Komets president Michael Franke and General Manager David Franke both asked Dave if Andy had the chip before Game 5.
The crazy thing about 2010 is that Andy forgot to carry the chip for Game 3 of the finals against Flint. What happened? The Komets lost in overtime.
"I left that jacket with the chip in my truck by accident," Andy said. "Then when we got in my truck to go to the hotel, I was like, `Wait a minute, I didn't put my coat on, and the chip was in my pocket.' The next game I made sure to wear it. It's just kind of ironic - the game we lost in the finals, I didn't have it on me."
Irony or fate?
After that 2010 title, Andy gave Dave the chip back in the locker room as part of the Komets' celebration. By then everyone believed in the lucky chip. Well, almost everyone.
"After we won, Uncle Dave came up to me and said, `See, I told you about the lucky chip,' " Phillips said. "I said, `I don't want to break your heart, Uncle Dave, but I don't believe in that stuff.' "
And that's where the story gets a little odd, because fans reading this are wondering, ``Well, what happened last year then? Why didn't the chip work then?'' Dave somehow lost it during the middle of the 2010-11 season, and despite desperate attempts digging through pants pockets and couch cushions, it stayed missing as the Komets lost to Rapid City in five games.
Then, in August, Dave's wife, Dawn, was digging through some boxes in the Desmonds' garage when she found the chip. Though Andy no longer works for the Komets, he's still a huge fan and attends most of the games with his dad. Dave gave him the chip again when the Komets were facing elimination heading into Game 6 of the Turner Conference finals against Missouri on April 24.
What happened? The Komets played two of their best games of the year and rallied to win in seven games. Now Andy is carrying the chip until the Komets either win the Ray Miron Presidents' Cup or are eliminated from the Central Hockey League Finals. Heading into tonight's Game 3, the Komets lead Wichita 2-0.
You could say the chips are down for the Thunder. Or maybe not.