The moment a player is honoured at centre ice in front of the fans he entertained for so many years, it is truly something the player being recognized never forgets. It isn’t about goals or assists, but about impact, and the fans are always ready to shower their hero with one final grand gesture of adulation. There are tons of players who have had their numbers retired, and may of them were not even Hall-of-Famers, but every one of them accomplished great things with their franchise, whether it was though sheer talent, drive or leadership. In the case of Colin Chaulk, he had all three qualities in spades as a member of the Fort Wayne Komets.
Colin Chaulk is justly regarded as one of the finest players in Komets history scoring 184 goals and 500 assists in 588 games from 2002 to 2013. His 684 total points put him third in franchise history, and his 102 playoff points rank him second all-time. He was also team captain for many years, and remains one of the most respected players the Komets have ever had. It goes without saying that he deserved to have his number 91 raised to the rafters, and come hell or high water, that is exactly what the Komets did on February 18, 2017 as Chaulk’s new team, the Brampton Beast (he is now their head coach) got set to take on the Komets in front of a capacity crowd of 9,515.
As usual, there was a big banner with Colin’s name and number on it. On the left is general manager David Franke, and on the right is Colin. All Colin had to do was lift the blanket off the banner, and…
Whoops! Cue the laughter, which is exactly what everyone in the arena did…
At this point, I’d like to take a minute out of this induction to present you with a short quiz.
Question: If you were faced with a similar embarrassing situation, what would be the most intelligent thing to do next? Would you…
a) turn the banner right side up again before hoisting it up to the rafters?
b) acknowledge said mistake with a quick joke before turning the banner around and hoisting it up to the rafters?
c) run away and let those left behind figure things out for themselves?
d) look at the upside-down banner, say to yourself, “Well, nothing wrong here,” and hoist it up to the rafters anyway.
Think hard about this question; it’s a tricky one.
Ok, got your answer? Good. Now scroll down a little bit to see if you answered correctly.
If you answered a, b or c, you are officially NOT a moron, and it is truly a shame you were not in Fort Wayne to talk some sense into the monkeys running this show.
If you answered d, you are likely one of the monkeys who in fact raised Colin Chaulk’s number to the rafters.
You know the famous saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? Well, the Komets did just that. Not be deterred from an embarrassing unveiling, the Komets raised the upside-down 91 to the rafters anyway, because nothing was going to ruin Colin’s big night. I mean, they could have fixed it lickety-split by turned the big 91 right side up again, and everything would have been OK, but what’s the fun in that, right? Instead, we got this…
And everyone just looked the other way and pretended everything was perfectly normal, like this is exactly how everything was meant to go down. As the number inched closer and closer to the ceiling, there wasn’t even any applause, just an awkward murmur that permeated throughout the arena.
“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.” 1 Making matters worse, arena workers finally fixed the upside-down banner during the first intermission! Wasn’t that much more difficult than just fixing the banner while it was two feet off the ground?
Thankfully, Chaulk laughed off the snafu and took everything in stride. “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.” Unfortunately for the Fort Wayne Komets, I’m always on the lookout for shameful hockey moments to induct into our hallowed Hall. Now Colin Chaulk’s number retirement ceremony has been made a permanent part of the Hockey Hall of Shame as a reminder that when you have the chance to make things right, do it right away, damnit!
1 Sebring, Blake. “Mistake mars Chaulk’s Komets banner ceremony,” Fort Wayne News-Sentinel (Feb. 18, 2017).