Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Komets' Jamie Schaafsma looks for a shot on goal at Memorial Coliseum.
Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette Komets’ Jamie Schaafsma carries the puck at Memorial Coliseum last season.
Thursday, June 13, 2019 1:00 am
Transitioning Komets part with Schaafsma
Age of captain, MVP among reasons cited by team for decision
JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette
The Komets are parting ways with Jamie Schaafsma, who donned the “C” as captain all four seasons he was with the team. Schaafsma, 36, was also selected MVP by his teammates last season.
“I'm saddened to say my family and I are not returning to Fort Wayne next year,” Schaafsma wrote in a statement. “I would like to thank all my teammates, the fans, the Komets staff, the media and all the great people in the community that made our time in Fort Wayne so special.”
Schaafsma helped the Komets to four playoff berths and two trips to the conference finals. Last season, he had 14 goals and 31 points in 67 games, playing wing, center and defenseman, but was scoreless in the six-game playoff loss to the Toledo Walleye.
“To all my teammates, thank you for making my days at the rink so memorable and enjoyable,” he wrote. “We never seemed to achieve our ultimate goal, but I don't look back with regret, for I know how hard we worked and how difficult it is to win a Kelly Cup. Regretfully, with the new coach putting his stamp on things, I will not be playing or coaching, as they have decided to go in a different direction.”
There had been speculation that Schaafsma would either remain as player/assistant coach or become a full-time assistant to Ben Boudreau, who was elevated to head coach May 30.
General manager David Franke said he will announce today Boudreau's lone assistant. The front-runner is Olivier Legault, who was an assistant with Boudreau under Gary Graham.
“No. 1, Jamie's a veteran and he'll be 37 years old. As a player, we felt it was time to move on,” Franke said. “As an assistant coach, with Ben being the head coach, we're only going to have one assistant coach this year, ... and because we weren't going to bring Jamie back as a player and there wasn't a coaching opportunity here, he'll become a free agent.”
With the departures of Schaafsma and Cody Sol, who will play in Slovakia, the Komets' leadership nucleus will certainly look different.
“Jamie did a heck of a job for us,” Franke said. “He was a great captain, a great family guy with a wonderful wife and four beautiful kids. I wish it would have worked out, but we're in a big transition mode here. I don't expect any more than five, six – maybe seven – guys being back on the team for the upcoming season. We're going to be going about our job of rebuilding the core this summer.
“The core we had with Jamie, Cody Sol and some of those players; ... that core group is pretty much gone now, and it will be up to us to build that new core group.”
Schaafsma totaled 68 goals and 159 points in 238 regular season games, plus 13 goals and 22 points in 50 playoff games.
“It was a great four years and I will always look back amorously on my time as captain with the Fort Wayne Komets,” wrote Schaafsma, who had won championships in the Central Hockey League and ECHL with Allen.
Reached Wednesday by The Journal Gazette, Schaafsma deferred comment to his statement but did say he hasn't decided if he will continue playing or not.
“I'm undecided on what I want to do. But it's nice, considering it's only word of mouth right now that I'm not playing in Fort Wayne, that I've already received a lot of interest from different places,” Schaafsma said. “But I'm also considering retiring and maybe doing something away from hockey.”