Bolland tightens link to Shanahan

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 1:34 PM ET

London Knights forward David Bolland has always felt a close connection to his hometown hockey hero, Brendan Shanahan.

The 19-year-old Mimico native can add one more link to that chain after being named yesterday to the Canadian team that will compete at the world junior hockey championships in Vancouver beginning Dec. 26.

"It's a great feeling that David made the team -- he's a mini-Brendan," Knights trainer Don Brankley said. "For hockey in Mimico (now part of Toronto), Brendan has always been one and now David is two. He has always been the heir apparent to Brendan there."

Bolland, who will be one of four assistant captains in British Columbia, was just a baby when Shanahan played for the national junior team in 1987 -- the year the gold-medal contending Canadians were kicked out of the tournament for the infamous brawl with the Soviets in Piestany, Czechoslovakia.

"Brendan got a gold medal but it was from (late Toronto Maple Leafs owner) Harold Ballard, who thought they were ripped off," Brankley said. "It's a special achievement for these kids to get to play for their country. In importance, it's right up there with winning the (Memorial) Cup, so how good has it been for David? He got to do both and only a few get the chance to do one."

Looking at the current crop of London players, Bolland could be the last Knight to play for Canada for the next few years. His teammates know how much stock he put into impressing head coach Brent Sutter and being picked for this year's team.

"David had a legitimate shot at making it last year and when he didn't, we know what he went through and how much he worried about getting on it this year," London captain Dylan Hunter said. "As players here, it's always better to watch the tournament when you know a guy well on the team. The guys come back with some great stories. You learn about the quirks some of the guys you play against in the league have and you chirp at them and they'll be, 'How did you know that?' You just grin and say, 'Never mind.' "

There should be plenty of chirping back and forth when Bolland meets up with London teammate and United States rep Rob Schremp Dec. 31.

Though the Knights are happy to send as many players as they can to the world juniors, there's always a little bit of extra pride for a guy like Bolland, who has been in the organization for his entire OHL career.

"(Rob) Schremp is Schremp, but with David, we (the Knights) picked him in the first round and you saw him develop from the first day he came here as a 16-year-old," Brankley said. "He was always the guy waiting in the wings but it's his time now -- he's this year's Corey Perry."

When London picked Bolland eighth overall in the 2002 OHL draft, the kid was incredibly proud to be selected by the team where Shanahan played his junior hockey. The six-foot, 175-pound Bolland, a Chicago Blackhawks second-rounder, isn't a power forward like his hero, but he hopes to have a similar career path as the current Detroit Red Wing.

"You don't know how they'll turn out, but David is a great kid," Brankley said. "Brendan was a unique person. You look at him with what he did (with the recent NHL rules reform) and that was exactly in his character. In '87, Brendan was picked up as a columnist by the (London) Free Press and he would take the time to write stuff down for it. If it was David, he wouldn't write -- he would want to talk about it."

He'll certainly have a lot to talk about when he gets back in the new year. Bolland and the Canadian team travelled to B.C. yesterday. They'll undergo a pre-competition camp in Kamloops before their Boxing Day world juniors opener against Finland.


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