November 27, 2009
Knight taking his shot17-year-old forward won't let diabetes keep him from his NHL dream
By RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA
Jared Knight scored the overtime winner last Friday against Erie.
On Sunday in Oshawa, he was on the ice right until the end.
But something was wrong.
London Knights teammate Leigh Salters saw it.
"I noticed he was coming to the back of the bus a lot for washroom breaks," the 20-year-old Salters said. "I was watching him. He looked sluggish. He was showing the same symptoms I had when I was diagnosed at six years old."
Salters has dealt with Type 1 diabetes for the last 14 years.
He handed Knight his blood monitor.
It tested high.
London athletic therapist Andy Scott arranged blood tests with team doctor Dieter Bruckschwaiger.
Knight, too, has Type 1 diabetes.
He sat out Tuesday in Kitchener. He won't play this weekend.
"It was shocking," the 17-year-old from Battle Creek, Mich., said. "I had felt sluggish the past few weeks. I wasn't sleeping real well. I had to get up a lot in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
"I didn't know what it was. But Leigh gave me his blood monitor to use. He was the one who figured it out."
Knight hates that he can't play right now. He's in his NHL draft year and he doesn't want to miss any games.
He has a lot to prove.
"I have to get my shot and watch my diet right now," he said. "This is a minor speed bump. It's not a career-ender. My goal is to play in the NHL and a lot of guys have got through this and made it.
"I've already worked out and I was on the ice skating again."
He has discussed diabetes with Salters. The big veteran forward provided a dose of reality.
"It sucks for him," Salters said. "It's a life-changer, for sure. . . . But I told him it can be done. You just have to do things differently now.
"You look at the NHL a nd guys have made it. B.J. Crombeen of St. Louis, Nick Boynton on Boston. Bobby Clarke, of course.
"It can be overcome."
Salters has become an expert at managing diabetes. He knows when he needs his boost on the ice.
"Leigh has been dealing with this for so long, his body tells him when his sugar is low," Scott said. "Jared is going to have to get used to that the next few weeks. In hockey, there's so much extra energy expended. He has to learn when to get his insulin shot and when he has to eat that extra granola bar.
"It takes time."
But Knight is lucky.
He has Salters along to guide him.
The over-ager will be back in the lineup tonight after serving a one-game suspension for trying to remove General Victor Terreri's helmet during a fight.
"Leigh's been great to me," Knight said. "All the guys have been great. The coaches, the staff, everyone here."
He won't walk alone.
"We've always been close in this (dressing) room," Salters said. "Maybe now, we'll end up being roommates together on the road. I just told him anything he needs, I'm there to help him."
It takes courage to keep chasing a dream after a medical setback.
Salters never gave up on his goals.
Knight won't, either.
"He wants it bad," London GM Mark Hunter said. "He wants to be a hockey player. But it's a good thing it was caught when it was. He could've been seriously ill."