From the time the team began until the mid-1960s, Eddie Long was the "spirit" of the Fort Wayne Komets.
When the Fort Wayne Komets first came to town in 1952, they held a free exhibition two nights before their first game to introduce the sport to the fans.
Then-News-Sentinel Sports Editor Ben Tenny wrote, "It didn't take me long to see that the young short skater who was wearing No. 16 on his white jersey had that desire to win and get ahead that makes some athletes outstanding. If the play of this youngster is typical of the play fans will see in the International Hockey League, hockey will make it in Fort Wayne."
Hockey made it and so did Eddie Long. Long played 14 seasons for the Komets, and no one else has ever worn No. 16, which became the first Komets' jersey retired on March 27, 1965, when Long retired.
During his playing days, Long scored 459 goals, 465 assists and 924 points while earning 845 penalty minutes in 858 games. He ranks second in games played, goals, assists and points, and is ninth in penalty minutes on the Komets' all-time lists.
"But Eddie Long is more than a statistic -- he's a spirit, the spirit of competition," former News-Sentinel Sports Editor Bud Gallmeier wrote at Long's retirement in 1965. "He only knew one way to play the game -- as hard as he could. Eddie would burn more energy during one shift on the ice than many players do in an entire game."
During his career, "Tiny Mite" as he was first known, became "Mr. Komet." He was part of two Turner Cup championship teams, played in four IHL All-Star games, was the league's MVP in 1963 and was named all-league three times.
Nagging injuries forced his retirement at age 31, but he still plays recreational hockey in Fort Wayne today.
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