Knights' day

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

TORONTO -- One mystery solved. Rob Schremp's pants really are on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

In the aftermath of London's momentous Memorial Cup victory, Schremp remembers ex-Knight Brendan Shanahan yelling at him to put on some pants during the post-game dressing room celebrations.

"I was walking around in just my jockstrap because I had lost my pants -- someone (from the Hall of Fame) took them," Schremp said with a grin yesterday just inside the entrance of the downtown Toronto hockey hall. "I wasn't lying. They're here."

They'll be there likely until next June in a major display case along with other London artifacts such as Don Brankley's lucky green golf shirt, Bryan Rodney's game socks, Danny Syvret's helmet and sweater and all four pucks the Knights put in the Rimouski Oceanic net during that memorable Memorial Cup final.

On a Hall-designed day to honour the Knights and their unforgettable season yesterday, high-scoring forward Corey Perry took a long, hard look at the display case, trying desperately to recall snippets of what has been the game of his life so far. Later, he admitted he remembered little of the Cup final at the John Labatt Centre because of a suspected concussion he suffered a few minutes into the first period.

"The truth is I was kind of on auto-pilot after that," the Anaheim Mighty Ducks signee said.

With 10 minutes left in that nationally-televised 4-0 win, Perry turned to long-time linemate Dylan Hunter and actually asked, "What game is this?"

"It's the Memorial Cup final," Hunter responded.

"Are we winning?" Perry asked.

"Yes," Hunter replied while giving his teammate a strange look. "We are."

That win, of course, spurred London's first Cup celebration and precipitated the team's Hall visit yesterday. More than 1,000 Knights fans crowded around to get autographs and give the Hall a touch of green.

That attention has become a familiar refrain for the Knights, their profiles raised well beyond the normal OHL scale by their string of wins, their gaudy 79-9-2 season mark and their success during an NHL-less fall and winter.

From grizzled 20-year-old to green rookie, the skaters realize yesterday's Hall romp and today's celebratory golf tournament at FireRock in Komoka -- where the team will receive its Cup rings -- will mark the end of the 2004-05 edition of the Knights.

Of the roster that participated in the Cup tournament, all but forward David Bolland, who's taking part in Hockey Canada's world junior team summer tryout, took part in the Hall event.

"This is the last time we will all get together, maybe forever," Schremp said. "Guys will go on and do different things. There will be golf tournaments and things like that, but it'll be hard to get the whole group back. The summer is always a shock. You're with these guys all year and then all of a sudden, it's over and everyone, for the most part, goes their separate ways."

The following fall, there are new faces and the chemistry has changed. The players know that and it's why, to a man, the Knights climbed onto the Via Rail train yesterday bright and early at London station, ready to soak in a few last hours from long-lasting friendships forged during one of junior hockey's greatest seasons.

Forward Trevor Kell flew in from Thunder Bay and met the team at Toronto's Union Station. After the first of many photo ops, the team walked down Front Street to the Hall with Danny Syvret carrying the Memorial Cup that's awarded to the teams (there are two and the other one is housed at the Hall).

Once inside the building, the Knights were welcomed by Ron Ellis in the Great Hall, the spot where hockey's greats are inducted every year. After taking in the NHL's phalanx of trophies and gazing at the legends on the walls, the players participated in a fan forum, signed autographs (750 posters were handed out and all were snapped up) and later got interactive with the Hall's target shooting and goaltending exhibits.

Goaltending coach Dave Rook earned laughs for going 0-for-5 on the computerized goaltending challenge and the Knights players tried like crazy to top Perry's standard of three-for-eight on the targets. Just like in every practice this past season, the players fired pucks at each other's legs and tried to knock each other off-balance.

Their high jinks drew big crowds, a point of pride for the Knights.

"We know the people are passionate about their hockey and it's nice to be a part of -- my brother lives in Boston and I went to a Red Sox game on Monday and kind of got a taste of what it's like for that team," Knights forward Drew Larman said. "It's been an unforgettable day. I had never been to this Hall of Fame before, only the old one. I hadn't even been on a train before -- there's not a lot of those in Detroit."

Nor are there many junior hockey teams that can walk into the entrance of the Hall of Fame and see a major display detailing their accomplishments.

"It's surreal," Dylan Hunter said. "You come here as a 10-year-old and dream of one day being in here or having some of your gear in here and it's happened for us now. We knew the Hall was interested in our stuff once the win streak started growing. They took my elbow pads and I couldn't believe it at first. You think they're taking stuff from guys like Brett Hull and Wayne Gretzky and now they want yours."


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