Al Sims, the coach with the most wins and championships in the Fort Wayne Komets' 61-year history, is retiring.
``I am announcing my retirement today from the Fort Wayne Komets hockey club. After talking with my family the last month we are all in agreement this is the best course for me,” Sims said in a release from the team. ``I have to thank the Franke family for the opportunity they afforded me. The last 6 years have been the best of my coaching career. I want to thank all the players who played for me, and all the fans that supported us. It was a very special time in Komets history and I think it will become even more special as time goes on. I wish the Komets and their fans the very best in the future.”
Sims, who turned 60 on April 18, won five playoff championships in 10 years with the Komets and 503 games, including playoffs. During his first tour with the Komets from 1988 to 1993, he led the team to the miracle 12-0 sweep of the Turner Cup playoffs in 1993 and reached the finals in 1991.
After leaving the Komets to coach in the National Hockey League for four seasons, Sims bounced around the minors before coming back to Fort Wayne in 2007 and led the team to three consecutive International Hockey League titles. Twice the Komets rallied rom 3-1 deficits to win playoff series.
After the Komets struggled during their first Central Hockey League season in 2010-11, Sims led them to the Presidents' Cup Trophy the next season. After trailing Missouri 2-0 in the semifinals after losing the first two games at home, the Komets rallied to win the series in seven games and crushed Wichita in the finals.
During his 10 seasons in Fort Wayne, Sims experienced only one losing season, the most recent one, when the Komets finished 33-35-4.
“We cannot thank Al enough for his accomplishments during his two different tenures as Komet coach,” Komet president Michael Franke said. “It doesn’t get any better than this. His tremendous success will be honored by the organization in the near future in a proper way. It’s been a great run and we wish Al and his family all the best.”
Along with the 16-20 home record (including 1-7 when playing before crowds of 8,000 or more), maybe the biggest knock against Sims is that the Komets were blown out in their biggest games over the season's last month. Even when they had ample days off to prepare. the Komets lost to Florida 6-3 and 6-2 on March 8 and 9 and to Reading 8-2 on March 20.
“Al Sims’ accomplishments in Fort Wayne are quite remarkable,” Komet general manager David Franke said. “Who would have thought in 1990 when our family purchased the Komets that 24 years later Coach Al Sims would have won five league championships. Al Sims and Komet legend Ken Ullyot have been the best coaches in Komet history. What a legacy coach Al Sims leaves behind. Thank you, Al.”