Almost three years ago, Matt Syroczynski took his International Hockey League playoffs Most Valuable Player trophy and went home to Buffalo, N.Y., and real life. He had a business opportunity to run a health club for his brother-in-law.
Today, Syroczynski comes back to the Komets, and the biggest obstacle won't be a huge defenseman standing in front of the net waiting to bang heads. It'll be how long it takes Syroczynski's lungs to get back to where they were three years ago.
``I don't think it will take long at all,'' the 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward said. ``I think I can spend a couple of weeks to get in shape and get things to come together. If I don't produce, I'll go home. It just seems the team needs a guy like me, and they know what I bring. I just finish checks and go to the net.''
The 29-year-old will arrive in Fort Wayne this afternoon and hopes to skate at Friday's practice. So does captain Colin Chaulk, who hopes to get clearance from the doctor today to resume skating after missing several weeks with a foot infection, and Chaulk can't wait to run Syroczynski into the ground. The two were linemates on that 2010 championship team when Syroczynski scored 11 goals in 12 playoff games.
``I think he's just thinking he wants to play,'' Chaulk said. ``If he does well, which I know he will, I think he'll continue to play after this season.''
The Komets have not officially announced the signing, but Komets General Manager David Franke admitted the team has talked to Syroczynski. The Komets need a big body, especially one who can clog the front of the net and shovel home rebounds. Probably 10 of Syroczynski's 11 goals that playoffs came within 10 feet of the net.
``He's a pretty good skater, and the biggest use we'd have for him is in front of the net,'' Komets forward Kaleigh Schrock said. ``Three years is three years, but I don't think it would affect him as much as it would a lot of other guys. If he can come back like that, it would be fabulous.''
This process started Jan. 12 when the phone rang at 10:38 a.m. The National Hockey League lockout had ended, and the Florida Everblades wanted to know whether Syroczynski wanted to play that night. He had moved to Fort Myers a year and a half ago to work in a family restaurant and continued skating in a 30-and-older league that Syroczynski says was filled with former pro players.
``I asked my wife if she would cover the restaurant,'' he said. ``I skated more than I thought I would, 12 to 14 shifts. I felt a little sore after the game, but it got the fire going again. Then I started to get phone calls from guys, more than when I was actually playing.''
One of them was Chaulk.
``He said, `I'm thinking about playing,' '' Chaulk said. ``Then he texted me and said he was thinking about playing a game for Cincinnati that weekend. I said, `The hell you are.' ''
Chaulk talked with coach Al Sims and Franke who made the deal happen. Now Chaulk has to help the conditioning happen.
``Chaulker has the skates, the trainer and the gym sessions already scheduled,'' Syroczynski said. ``This will be great because we can push each other. Colin was always the last one off the ice when we were playing on a line together, so I know we can both make this happen.
``I know David wants to win a championship in every league he plays in, and I'd love to get another Kelly Cup.''
Maggio plays well in all-star game
Komets defenseman Daniel Maggio was on the winning side Wednesday night at the ECHL All-Star Classic in Loveland, Colo. The rookie earned two penalty minutes and was plus-2 as the ECHL All-Stars defeated the Colorado Eagles 7-3 before 5,289 fans. Maggio also had three shots on goal.
Wheeling's Andrew Hotham scored two goals, Gwinnett's Casey Pierro-Zabotel passed two assists, and Chris Francis of Las Vegas, Toledo's Willie Coetzee and C.J. Severyn of Orlando each had a goal and an assist for the ECHL All-Stars.