Knight adjusting to new position

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

Whatever it takes.

Those are three words you'll hear an awful lot in this, the year of new hockey.

Whatever it takes to win. Whatever it takes to get better. Whatever it takes to adjust to the new game -- including playing a position one has never played before.

Welcome to the new world of Rob Drummond.

From the moment Drummond donned skates, he has been a forward. His three years with the London Knights have been as a forward. Few people considered him anything but a forward.

Friday, when the Knights open their Ontario Hockey League regular season at the John Labatt Centre against the Saginaw Spirit, Drummond will be playing defence. He's played there in parts of the exhibition games and spent the entire night on the blue-line in the final preseason game Friday against Miss-issauga.

Drummond, at five-foot-11 and 175 pounds, is the best skater on the team but isn't a physical player. He's hardly typical of what a defenceman has looked like in the past.

But with the enforcement of rules and emphasis on a more open game, a defenceman no longer has to be a hulking behemoth.

"You are going to see more and more smaller defencemen playing the game," assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu said. "When we first looked at it, we felt we needed guys who could skate back there and get the puck quickly. We felt we were lacking there. (General manager) Mark Hunter made the call and we thought we would try it."

Drummond responded with a four-point Knights against the IceDogs.

"I was a little surprised at first," Drummond said of the change. "With the new rules, it's going to help me because it will open the ice up a little more. I found when I was playing back there that I actually had more scoring opportunities."

The Knights blueline has been decimated by graduation. Frank Rediker is their most experienced defenceman as an overage player but he hasn't played much in two years because of injury. He's back from the Boston Bruins camp. He has one spot with first-round draft pick Corey Syvret assured a spot. Ryan Martinelli and Matt McCready are also returning.

Hunter obtained 19-year-old defenceman Ryan Lee from the Plymouth Whalers yesterday for future considerations. He had one goal and two assists in 43 games last year.

Is moving Drummond to the blueline an act of desperation?

"I thought he did a good job," Beaulieu said. "Now that no one can touch you to get to the puck we need guys that can skate move it well.

"In his own end, he gets confused at times but that's understandable. But he's 19 now and he'll pick it up quickly. Sometimes a change is good."

Drummond is ready to try whatever it takes. As a second round draft choice in 2002, he hasn't been able to score on a consistent basis. He's floated between the third and fourth line and killed penalties.

"Playing forward, I haven't achieved what I've wanted to do. This will add a little more to my game," he said. "It's a good opportunity for me, for people watching to see that I can be versatile."

He knows he has a lot to learn but Drummond likes how the changes will help him and the team. He hopes he'll get a crack at playing the point on the power play. That should be stronger for the opener as well with the return today of David Bolland and Trevor Kell from the Chicago Blackhawks training camp.

"You can't pin guys in the corner any more so the game has changed," he said. "I find that you don't skate as hard all the time but you can pick and choose your spots and jump up on the rush.


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