As soon as he made the decision to retire, Komets coach Al Sims said he knew it was the correct time.
``The stress is gone, and I feel real good about it,'' Sims said Monday afternoon. ``It seems like everybody is saying the same thing, `I've never seen you so relaxed.' I think I made the right decision when you hear people around you saying things like that. It obviously feels good.''
Sims is the coach with the most wins and most championships in the Komets' 61-year history. Sims, who turned 60 on April 18, won five playoff championships in 10 years with the Komets and 503 games, including playoffs.
``What an era it was,'' Komets General Manager David Franke said. ``In my opinion it was the golden era of the Fort Wayne Komets. The hockey was great, the excitement level was great. Al is here on two different occasions, and and we do is keep winning.
``The one thing I'm proud of is me and Al had very few disagreements during his tenure as coach. Over that course of time, we got along very, very well. We worked together very well. He knew me and I knew him. I told him, `Al, you're like a brother to me.' We've been through a lot of good times and some bad times but many more good times than bad times.''
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 from 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 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.
``This has been a very special time for me these last six years,'' Sims said of his second stint in Fort Wayne. ``It's only going to get more special as the years go on and we look back on our accomplishments. It's difficult just having one coach for six years in today's game. Young guys want to come in and they want to get to the AHL or the NHL, and they rarely stay for as long as I stayed.''
Sims said he and his wife, Sue, plan on retiring in Fort Wayne, and he'd like to remain involved in the game off the ice, maybe as a television commentator if possible.
``I think our plan right now is to take some time off and see what direction I want to take the next 5-10-15 years,'' he said. ``Maybe I can share my knowledge with hockey fans on NBC or TSN and do that the next 10 to 20 years. Who knows?''
Now the Komets start looking for their next coach. Franke said he wants to have a new bench boss in place by June 1. He said the Komets will continue to be deliberate in their vetting process and take their time to get the right man.