Komets star and ECHL MVP Shawn Szydlowski is going to Norway

Komets star and ECHL MVP Shawn Szydlowski is going to Norway

Popular Fort Wayne Komets forward Shawn Szydlowski is joining his friend in Norway.

After five years with the Komets, the ECHL’s Most Valuable Player this past season will join former Komets teammate Garrett Thompson at Frisk Asker in Norway.

The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne reports that Szydlowski is leaving for multiple reasons, but admits that a big reason is financial.

“If there’s a possibility to be paid the same way in North America, I don’t think many guys would look to Europe,” Szydlowski told the News-Sentinel’s Blake Sebring. “It’s really about the money and the age and the profession where we do have an age limit and it’s a tough job.”

Players in the ECHL are limited in what they can make because of the league’s salary cap. The average player’s salary in the ECHL is roughly $640 a week because teams are limited to a salary cap of $12,800 per week. Star players can make more, while rookies make less than the average.

In Europe, teams don’t have these kind of limits, which means North American players looking for exposure often find themselves there before things like marriage, children, or injuries. The promise of more money and exposure lured away other popular Komets players like Thompson (Frisk Asker in Norway), Gabriel Desjardins (Vasterviks IK in Sweden), and Mason Baptista (EHC Freiburg in Germany).

Other reasons Szydlowski cited for making the move to Norway include wear and tear. Frisk Asker played 45 regular season games last season. The Komets? 72 games. Szydlowski has missed time in the past two seasons because of back issues.

On top of that, Szydlowski says Frisk Asker just flat-out wanted him.

“The team has been pretty consistently after me the last few years, and they expressed the most interest of any team this summer,” Szydlowski said. “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just one of their other guys and it was a good situation. They were real high on me and expect me to be one of their better players. I also heard good things about the organization from past guys who played there when I checked them out.”

Szydlowski did express an interest in retiring as a Komet down the road.

In five seasons in Fort Wayne, the 27-year-0ld Szydlowski played 296 games, scoring 130 goals, adding 190 assists, and registering 348 penalty minutes, gaining a reputation as a player who was willing to put in a hard-working shift every time he was on the ice and a player that wasn’t afraid to stick up for his team. All of this not only earned him a reputation as a fan-favorite in Fort Wayne, but also put him in the top 25 in the franchise’s all-time in games played, goals, assists and total points.

Regardless, the exit of Szydlowski is another blow this offseason for the Komets. In addition to the exits of Szydlowski, Thompson, Baptista, and Desjardins, the Komets also will likely lose standouts like goaltender Michael Houser and forward Artur Tyanulin next season because the team severed its affiliation with the Arizona Coyotes and Tuscon Roadrunners.

NHL teams that are seeking an ECHL affiliate this offseason include the Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and the Nashville Predators. In a news release, the Komets stated a desire to partner with another NHL team going forward.

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