Knights in the path of milestone

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

BELLEVILLE -- If Dick Todd registers the 500th win of his OHL coaching career tonight, he'll take a little extra satisfaction from the milestone.

Todd, back behind the Peterborough Petes bench following an 11-year absence, is seeking the win against the top team in junior hockey, the London Knights.

"I was hoping I would have got it last weekend," he said with a bit of a chuckle as he spoke yesterday of tonight's game in Peterborough.

The game is already sold out.

Todd's record sits at 499-252-58-4 and he'll be the quickest to reach 500 wins in Canadian Hockey League history.

He is eighth on the all-time CHL list, but his winning percentage is the best.

Todd said he has no visions of ever catching Brian Kilrea of the Ottawa 67's who, at age 70 and in his 28th season, has 1,231 wins.

"I'll take pride in reaching 500 the fastest but I don't think I'll be around as long as Killer (Kilrea)," said Todd, who is now 59.

He left the Petes in 1993 after winning his second of two OHL championships to join the New York Rangers.

The Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994.

Todd spent five years in the Big Apple, then was reassigned by the Rangers as a scout. He retired to the golf courses of Florida in 2001.

But Todd and his wife Mary always maintained a home in Peterborough, and during a visit last spring he got to talking with Petes general manager Jeff Twohey.

Twohey had been the trainer, then assistant coach/assistant GM during Todd's first run as Petes coach which began in 1981.

The Petes were in the market for a coach after missing the playoffs. Todd told Twohey he was interested. After he met with the team's board of directors, a three-year deal was signed.

The Petes' fortunes have already turned around as they lead the Eastern Conference at 22-13-5-4.

"I'd had numerous offers the last five or six years but I wouldn't have come back to any other team," Todd said.

That's understandable. He likely has a Petes tattoo somewhere on his body after joining the organization in 1973 as a trainer for coach Roger Neilson.

Twohey and Todd are both comfortable with the situation in which Todd now works for Twohey.

"When I worked for Dick, we always worked together," said Twohey, who took over as GM when Todd left in '93.

Twohey also signed a new deal with the Petes last spring.

"Dick doesn't need to do this to survive. He's doing it because he wants to. He's not coaching to stroke his ego. He's coaching because he has a passion for the game."

Twohey drew a comparison to Knights coach Dale Hunter.

"I watch Dale on the bench and he's the same, he's coaching for the right reason -- because he wants to, not because he needs to."

As for Todd reaching the 500-win plateau tonight against the Knights, Twohey said: "If I was betting, I wouldn't bet on that game being No. 500. But stranger things have happened."


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