The Fort Wayne Komets have named Florida Everblades assistant Jesse Kallechy as the 30th head coach of the 72-year-old franchise, vice president, general manager, and director of hockey operations David Franke announced on Wednesday.
“His style of coaching and how he wants his team to play is right in line with the Komets style of hockey,” Franke said during an introductory press conference.
Kallechy, 33, replaces Ben Boudreau, whose contract the Komets declined to renew after four years with the team.
“It was really important to me when this process all started, and I was looking to move on, to come to a team that would give me and our team what they need to be successful,” Kallechy told reporters. “And what the Komets do for their players and the players that we can attract and the type of team that we can field, and the fan base is amazing – so for me, being able to come to another top-notch organization, it was a no-brainer. An absolute no-brainer.”
Kallechy played for four seasons in the Southern Professional Hockey League as a goalie, the last two with the Huntsville Havoc. He changed his sweater and pads for a suit and stepped behind the bench to serve as the Havoc’s assistant, helping the team go from 11 wins to President’s Cup champion in two years.
That success got him his first head coaching opportunity with the Fayetteville Marksmen, where he again improved a struggling franchise. Taking over a team that had sat in last place the year before, Kallechy took the Marksmen to the playoffs in his first year and to a second-place finish in the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season. The latter earned him the SPHL Coach of the Year award.
When longtime Everblades assistant/associate head coach Tad O’Had departed to lead the Kansas City Mavericks, Florida hired Kallechy to replace him. It was his first time – either as a player or coach – to reach the ECHL level. During his three seasons in Estero, the Everblades made the playoffs all three years and won the last two Kelly Cups.
“Working for (head coach) Brad Ralph for three years and Craig Brush, the GM, I’m incredibly grateful to those guys,” Kallechy said. “They were extremely valuable to me in teaching me about the ECHL and what it means to field a top-notch organization. They do things the right way down in Florida. They build teams the right way, they treat people the right way, and I think the results follow.”
“I am happy for Jesse and really proud for him,” Ralph said. “He’s a really good man and a great coach. He will help Fort Wayne and their winning culture take it to a new level. He will be missed here, and I am very thankful to Jesse for all his hard work and dedication to me and the Everblades.”
Brush identified Kallechy’s fluid communication with both Ralph and the players as a strong element of his role with the team. Kallechy was the type of coach who would stay after practice if a player needed extra reps. Brush noted, in particular, the way that the two coaches operated during their Kelly Cup Finals victory over the Idaho Steelheads earlier this month.
“The two of them were talking, and they were relating to the players,” Brush said. “These games were all close, and one mistake could make a difference, and (Idaho) made more mistakes than we did.”
During Boudreau’s four-year tenure in Fort Wayne, the Komets were 134-96-19-8 in the regular season. They won their first Kelly Cup championship in 2021 and made the playoffs each year, leaving out the COVID-shortened 2019-2020 season, where they finished third in the Central Division.
Kallechy is the fourth Everblades assistant to become an ECHL head coach. O’Had is currently the head coach and general manager with Kansas City. Brad Tapper coached the Adirondack Thunder for a season and spent time as an AHL assistant. Jason Nobili had a 34-game stint coaching the Reading Royals.