Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Shocker: Jack Combs Goes From Texas To Northern Sweden - The Back Story

Best of luck to Jack Combs who is headed to Sweden - photo by scenebykimberly.com

When Steve Martinson signed Jack Combs he said publicly and privately that he expected Jack to be gone by Christmas because he would be the best player in the ECHL and would get opportunities elsewhere. Martinson's hope was Jack could help the Allen Americans get off to a good start so it would make it easier to recruit good players after he left because players want to be with a winning club with a chance to go deep in the playoffs. Mission accomplished!

So when it was announced yesterday that Jack had been suspended by the team (a formal process so Allen can retain his rights should he return to the US) it was a shock to the suddenness but not a surprise that he was leaving.

It is hard to know where to start when describing Jack's contribution to the Allen Americans but he certainly did his part to get them in position (second best record in the ECHL) to have plenty of players that want to come to Allen for the playoff run. Here are a few of Jack's accomplishments:

- He has played in 32 games and failed to get a point only four times. He had multiple point games nineteen times including a league high four goals against Quad City on December 10.

- Jack leads the ECHL with a phenomenal 1.75 points per game. He is #1 in points (56), #1 in goals (22), #2 in assists (34), #1 in power play assists (11), #1 in game winning goals (6), and #3 in plus/minus (#24).

- Jack started the season scoring at least one point in fourteen straight games which is the longest point streak in the ECHL this year. He had 23 points during the streak and went over a month (October 24 - November 27) scoring in every game.

Jack's main competition in many of the statistical categories above is he line mate, good friend, and fellow magician Chad Costello. Jack and Chad have played many games together and their chemistry on the ice is unbelievable and so much fun to watch. Jack told me last night it is very tough leaving Allen and I am sure one of the reasons is he will no longer be playing with his best friend, Chad Costello.

"Please don't go Jack" - the Costello-Combs magic will be missed - photo by scenebykimberly.com

Had lots of questions last night when the word got out Jack was leaving about where he is going and why. Jack has signed with a team call Bjorkloven which means the "birch leaves" who play in the city of Umea which is in northern Sweden. Umea is just 250 miles south of the Arctic Circle but is close to the coast and influenced by the Gulf Stream so it has mild weather for being so far north. The average (Fahrenheit)  low temperature in January is 12 and in July is 52. The average highs are 23 in January and 68 in July. Umea and the surrounding area has about 120,000 people and is known as a University town with two universities and over 39,000 students. Interestingly, Umea is also known as the home of some great heavy metal bands including one called Meshuggah which Rolling Stone labelled as one of the 10 most important heavy metal bands. Maybe Allen captain Jamie Schaafsma, who is a heavy metal aficionado, can dial up some Umea heavy metal bands in the locker room in honor of Jack's departure. In additon to Meshuggah other well known metal bands from Umea are Cult of Luna, Hollow, Persuader, and Nocturnal Rites. 

Combs will be flying for Bjorkloven in Umea, Sweden

Jack will be playing for Bjorkloven which plays in the second tier Swedish league called HockeyAllsvenskan. The team has been around since 1970 and has produced some notable NHL players (Calle Johansson, Ulf Dahlen, Patrik and Peter Sundstrom). According to eliteprospects.com Bjorkloven is currently in 12th place in the 14 team league but still has the opportunity to make the playoffs which are very complicated as the top teams playoff  against the worse teams in the top league to see who moves up a league and the bottom two teams play the best teams in the next lower league to see who gets relegated to the lower league. The bottom line is Jack Combs is being brought in to help improve Bjorkloven's league record which is 14 wins and 17 loses. The top scorer on the team is 38 year old captain Stefan Ohman who has 26 points in 38 games so Comb's offensive prowess will be a welcome addition.

Jack Comb's new home - the 5400 capacity T3 Center

Money is almost always the motivating factor when players choose to head to Europe at this time of the season. Have no first hand knowledge of Comb's situation but have heard from other players that top end guys like Jack are sought after by European teams this time of year if they think they can make the difference in helping the team make the playoffs or avoid getting relegated to a lower league. Pay is always better in Europe but this time of year some Euro teams will pay extra well to get high end guys. Some of these offers can be as much money for a partial season as a player would have made if they went to Europe at the start of the season. You can't blame a player for looking out for his and his families best interest. It was not easy for Jack to make the decision to leave. When he sent me a message last night confirming he had signed with Bjorkloven he said it was a very tough decision to leave. Here is what Jack put out on social media. "Thank you Allen Americans and all of the fans for an amazing couple of months in Allen! Blessed to have been part of this season."

 From the entire Allen Americans community all you can say to Jack is it has been an honor and privilege to watch you play, best of luck to you and Hannah on your Swedish adventure and we hope to see you in Allen again. 

DID YOU KNOW: Jack Combs has been a traveling hockey man since he was fifteen years old. Originally from St. Louis here are his hockey stops along the way:
1. Los Angeles, California
2. Kitchener, Ontario
3. Saginaw, Michigan
4. Anchorage, Alaska
5 Trenton, New Jersey
6. Peoria, Illinois
7. Tulsa, Oklahoma
8. Chicago, Illinois
9. Denver (Loveland), Colorado
10. Worcester, Massachusetts
11. Bridgeport, Connecticut
12. San Antonio, Texas
13. Cincinnati, Ohio
14. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
15. Neftekamsk, Russia
16. Allen, Texas
17. Umea, Sweden


  1. Can't wait to see what Jack's talents can do for our offense. It will be especially good for our powerplay, enable us to put out two good PP lines will be nice, i think he will probably get ice-time with another north american we got over here, Mark Hurtubise (http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=13471).

    Anyway, thanks for a great article, and greetings from Umeå, Sweden!

  2. Great article, nice to get a "face" on the new guy. We are all very exited to follow Jack in the green jersey. Hopefully both of our seasons will experience happy endings!
    Best wishes from Umeå.

  3. I have to be honest and say that I have never been so disappointed in a player before.
    Is it even possible to skate so bad?
    And he's physical status when he came to Umea was a disaster.
    How bad is the ECHL league?
    Well, in Umea we are very pleased that Jack has left because he was by far the worst hochey player we have ever had in our team.