What was supposed to be a night to honor Komets great Colin Chaulk turned into a bit of a debacle Saturday night before Fort Wayne's largest crowd of the season. As Chaulk pulled the blanket off his No. 91 banner, the 9,515 Memorial Coliseum fans gasped as they saw the banner had been hung upside down.
Komets Director of Communications Director Chuck Bailey tried to keep things moving with a few jokes, and Komets President Michael Franke cracked that Chaulk always could turn Fort Wayne upside down, but team management was livid.
"This is he most embarrassing thing I've ever been a part of in 27 years with the club," said General Manager David Franke. "I feel bad for Colin and his family and his friends. It's uncalled for."
The team is blaming coliseum workers. Chaulk's banner was the 12th the Komets have raised since the Franke brothers purchased the franchise in 1990.
"It's one of those things, that everything was going along very well, smoothly. I just feel very badly for Colin and his family. It was out of our control."
Early attempts to reach coliseum officials for a comment were unsuccessful. Coliseum workers fixed the miscue during the first-period intermission.
As always, Chaulk was gracious and laughed off the incident. He said there were about 25 people here from his hometown of Toronto, and is team, the Brampton Beast, were the Komets' opponents Saturday night.
"It's a direct result and living proof that when a team does well individuals will have success, and it doesn't work the other way," Chaulk said during his speech. "As a young player, you believe you have to get points, plusses, fights and saves, all of those things. Really when you surrender to just playing the team game and having success as a team, individuals make more money and things like this happen."
Chaulk was a member of the Komets for 10 seasons winning five league championships and five team Most Valuable Player Awards. He ranks third in the Komet record book with 684 regular season points, second with 102 playoff points and set the club record for most playoff games with 99. Chaulk completed his Fort Wayne career during the 2012-13 season with combined totals of 217 goals, 569 assists, 786 points and 1,125 penalty minutes.
"I really live by a few things," Chaulk said. "One of them is that people will forget what you say and they'll forget what do for them over the years, but people will never forget how you make them feel. The people here in Fort Wayne, you have always made me and my family feel like this is home. My children were born here and I'm very thankful and I'll never for get that. Thank you, Fort Wayne."
After the game, which the Komets won 4-3 in overtime, a couple of Chaulk's Brampton players asked if the mistake was on purpose. Some of his family and friends asked if the Komets had an ax to grind with Chaulk. Komets management went to Brampton's locker room to talk with Chaulk.
"It's unfortunate," Chaulk said. "I would think you would double-check that before you put it out there. I've learned that it's how I respond to things and it's definitely out of my control. It was a great night, I enjoyed myself and I was happy for my family to be here."