Danny Syvret's NHL debut energizes Knights

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:59 PM ET

Like the 19 other teams in the OHL really wanted the London Knights to have another reason to feel good about themselves.

Rookie defenceman Corey Syvret was one Knight who had a little extra jump in his skates last night.

He got word late Thursday that brother Danny, who captained the Knights to their first OHL and Memorial Cup titles last season, was called up to the NHL by the Edmonton Oilers from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL and was making his big-league debut last night in St. Louis.

"That put a big smile on my face because I knew that's what he was dying for and when the guys on the team came in (for last night's game against Windsor), that was the first thing I heard from them," Syvret said. "So it was a positive atmosphere."

Excitement is contagious, even more so among a group of teenage hockey players, half of whom played with Danny Syvret.

It's the little things, on and off the ice, that contribute to a championship season. Little things like talking in the dressing room about a guy you know and played with who is now in the NHL.

"Any time you get to talk about somebody that used to play here for the London Knights and they're going on to the NHL, I think anybody would be pretty happy to talk about them," Syvret said.

It was the same atmosphere around the team when Rick Nash made the NHL at 18.

Even though he still had two years of major junior eligibility and certainly would have helped the Knights, his teammates were happy for him.

Adam Perry knows the feeling after his brother Corey, who graduated as the Knights' all-time scoring leader and OHL player of the year, began the season in the NHL with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

"It keeps us going," the younger Perry said. "Whenever I talk to (Corey) I let the guys know what he says. It gives us something to look forward to, not only watching, but something for us to set as a goal. It's a good perspective of what can happen."

Corey Syvret is on a young blue-line that's taken over after the London defence set back-to-back OHL records for fewest goals against and equalled the Canadian Hockey League record last season.

With three 17-year-olds (Scott Aarssen, Steve Ferry and Andrew Wilkins) and one 16-year-old (Syvret), this year's defence was considered the one weak link.

But here are the Knights, right in the thick of things, and with each game that young blue-line gets better.

"That's pretty young to defend a Memorial Cup and it would be a bonus if we had some older guys," Syvret said.

"Experience helps the back end as well as your front end and maybe we'll pick up somebody older as we go, but right now I think we're fine."

Syvret is getting help from two sources you wouldn't expect to see imparting defensive advice -- OHL scoring leader David Bolland and Dylan Hunter, who finished second in scoring last year behind Corey Perry.

"They play forward, but when they're skating down on you, they know what they're exposing as a weakness and they point out things that can make me better," Syvret said.

"As I'm young right now, I have to play more of a defensive role, but as I get older I will be able to play more offensive.

"Right now I just have to keep it simple. Being a young defence, the more you do the more you're going to get in trouble."

Syvret is being used as a fifth or sixth defenceman, so he sees a lot of the game from the bench. But he understands he can learn from there as well and says it was the same for his brother.

In his first year, Danny Syvret would have been voted most likely to never play in the NHL.

"He had to play a simple role at first," Corey Syvret said.

"He didn't get many shifts, either. He just came out and he did what he was asked and look where it got him."


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