Trades open up 'whole new world'

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

Trades are a way of life in the OHL.

Eight players currently with the London Knights have been on more than one team.

Centre Dan Fritsche joined the Knights on Jan. 10, coming from the Sarnia Sting.

"It's a whole new world for you all of a sudden," he says, especially when you walk into a rival team's dressing room.

The Sting and Knights aren't exactly on the best of terms.

"You're on a new team, you're with a new family, you're making new friends. It's a lot more than people think," Fritsche says.

Defenceman Dan Girardi has gone through it three times. He started with the Barrie Colts, was traded to the Guelph Storm, then dealt to the Knights Jan. 5.

"Barrie and Guelph wasn't really a rivalry, so it wasn't a big deal," Girardi says. "I also knew (the Storm's) Dan Paille. We grew up together in Welland, so that transition was easy.

"But you know at least one or two players in that dressing room."

But Guelph to London?

The Storm had knocked off the Knights in a heated Western Conference final last spring.

"Guelph to here was a little different for sure after last year's playoffs and the rivalry we had," Girardi recalls of the day he came to London.

"I pulled in the John Labatt Centre parking lot at two o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon and I didn't know where to go. I went in the wrong door and was lost," he said.

"They finally called for (Knights general manager) Mark Hunter and he came and got me.

"The first guy I saw in the dressing room was Dave Bolland. He looked at me and came over and said, 'Hey, I'm Dave Bolland.' We clicked right away and I felt like I was part of the team already."

The Knights are like a family. The players do a lot of things together away from the rink, and just like real siblings they have their moments of disagreement.

But it's all part of learning to exist in a family environment.

There are times when Corey Perry is not patrolling the right wing that he thinks about what he might be doing if he was back home in Peterborough.

"I know I'm missing out on other things back home on a Friday night. Of course you do," he says.

"In your teenager years you want to go out and have fun, but you've got to play hockey that night.

"But right now everybody on this team is like a brother and there's nothing better than coming to the John Labatt Centre on a Friday night and playing hockey and going out for a little bit after the game.

"That's what we do."

Perry adds: "We don't try to abuse the system, but we like to have a good time, too. And we have our squabbles. There's always something going around, but that's the name of the game."

Defenceman Marc Methot thinks every day about what he's going to do once he leaves the OHL. The 19-year-old is a sixth-round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets but knows not all players realize their dream of playing in the NHL.

"I know a few guys back home in Ottawa and they've gone to college and landed good jobs," he says of what happens when the dream ends.

"It's something hard to cope with if you planned on going somewhere in hockey, but you have to be ready for it."

No matter what happens, Methot won't regret his three years with the Knights.

"It's been just positives ever since I moved here. I think of how my people skills have improved. With all the public relations work we do for the team, it makes me really at ease with large groups."


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