Tinordi will suit up for Knights

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

It was a quiet day at the London Knights practice Monday, so quiet you could hear the murmur of worry in the air.

Maybe not worry as much as a uncertainty about what the future holds for a player they were counting on heavily this year.

Most Knights had the day off Monday as the team gets ready for its Ontario Hockey League season opener Friday at home against the Plymouth Whalers.

This is the unsettled time of year, when junior teams wait to see who returns to play for them.

Predicting never used to be difficult, but that's changed. Every year seems to provide at least one surprise.

The Knights are in a holding pattern for some of their players. Their biggest interest is what's happening in Montreal, where Jarred Tinordi is attending Habs' camp.

Tinordi is the big defenceman the Knights persuaded to come play in the OHL instead of attending Notre Dame. He was in the U.S. development program.

Tinordi was also selected in the first round of the NHL draft by the Canadiens this summer.

Normally this wouldn't provide much of a mystery. While Tinordi is 6-foot-6, 200 pounds, he hasn't played what would be considered a full, gruelling schedule.

In previous years he'd be given a long look, told what he needed to work on and would be sent back to junior because the NHL team had no other option.

But a recent NHL ruling involving Jeremy Morin of the Kitchener Rangers has given teams some options.

Morin was drafted by an NHL team from the U.S. development program before he joined the Kitchener Rangers. So, at 19, the Chicago Blackhawks don't have to send Morin back to the OHL club, but can assign him to their AHL affiliate instead.

That same rule allowed the Knights John Carlson to leave at 19 to play professionally two years ago.

It's the same rule that might allow Tinordi or Jack Campbell, the Windsor Spitfires netminder, to play minor pro instead of in the OHL.

"We never really call the teams to check on what's going on because they do what they have to do," said Knights coach Dale Hunter.

"The idea is to get the players to play professionally."

No one can blame the Knights for being a little skittish.

Tinordi is the kind of big-bodied, skilled defenceman they've been looking for. But size is something the NHL prizes.

The Knights looked to be deep on the blue-line until a knee injury took Jake Worrad out of the picture for most of this season.

Losing Tinordi would create a huge hole, not only on defence but in the Knights' plans for the season.

Their history is rich in young players being taken into the NHL before their junior eligibility was complete. You can go as far back as Brendan Shanahan, then Rick Nash, and as recently as Pat Kane, Sam Gagner, Michael Del Zotto and others.

The good news in all this is Tinordi is in a much different situation than Morin or Carlson.

Those players all played a year of junior and had a chance to develop their strength and skills.

The bottom line is clear -- the Knights need not worry about losing Tinordi.

Tinordi needs to fill out and survive the grind of a tough junior season. He needs to dominate at junior before trying to play against men.

The Canadiens recognize that.

There's no way Tinordi plays anywhere except with the Knights this season.


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