Bad luck plagues Knight

Morris Dalla Costa -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

The old saw that if it weren't for bad luck, he wouldn't have any fits London Knight Rob Drummond. The speedy centre missed last night's exhibition game against the Erie Otters and will miss tonight's game at the John Labatt Centre against those same Otters.

He suffered a concussion in a game against the Sarnia Sting on Labour Day.

"We're talking precautions with him," Knights assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu said. "He can't play until he's gone 24 hours without a headache,"

It's just the latest headache for Drummond in a junior career that has always been on the verge of blossoming. It's especially frustrating for Drummond since he's a local boy and there's a dearth of local boys making it with the Knights.

Drummond was one of two second-round draft picks in the 2002 Ontario Hockey League priority draft, selected 28th overall. The Knights selected Dave Bolland with their first pick, No. 8, and followed it up with Drummond and defenceman Adam Nemeth (33rd) in the second round. Other members of that draft year were Ryan Potruff, Trevor Kell and Danny Richmond.

Drummond remains one of the swiftest skaters in the OHL. But his small stature has always been a stumbling block to his development. He spent most of his first year playing with the London Nationals.

Even though he was on the team when the Knights played their first game on the John Labatt Centre ice, the local boy was a scratch.

Then last year, he appeared ready to break out. He led the Knights in scoring during the exhibition season.

But during a game early in the season, he felt sick and had to leave. He went to the hospital, but was released. He returned to hospital the next day feeling far worse -- for good reason. His appendix had ruptured. Drummond missed six weeks.

When he returned to the lineup, he was weak and had trouble getting regular ice time. Then he broke a bone in his wrist.

When he was healthy again, he spent a lot of time on the bench.

But this was going to be the year he would get a real crack at some quality ice time. Enter the concussion.

"It's getting better," he said. "My head's a little sore. I skated (yesterday) and I could probably play through it, but I don't want to risk getting hit again until it's better."

Drummond was hurt on a hit by Marco Caprara.

"I got off the ice right away. I didn't feel well. That night I had an awful headache, but I thought it was just a hard hit. But the headache wouldn't go away."

Eventually it got better and he played again. But Friday against Windsor, he was jolted again. The headache returned.

"I thought I was going to puke, it was so bad," he said.

Drummond is anxious to return soon. With the competitive nature of the Knights camp, no one wants to be out of sight for long.

"We need him," Beaulieau said. "We've always liked him. We need his speed because it pushes back the D. It's an element of his game we need. We also want him to kill penalties."

The Knights also wanted Drummond to get bigger and stronger. He has gained only five pounds, but added muscle and finished first in pre-season fitness training.

"I'm stronger and I've been pretty happy with the pre- season," Drummond said. "I would have liked to score a few more goals, but otherwise I'm satisfied.

"I know I can play well if I get a regular shift. Every start to the season there seems to be something going wrong, but at least I'm not in a hospital bed, not being able to get out and exercise."

When Drummond returns, he should get a real shot at playing regularly. It's been a long time coming for the local boy looking to make good.


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