Knights champs still close

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

There's little threat of the stars on the tightly-knit 2005 Memorial Cup champion London Knights growing apart as the years pass.

Not unless you count the space between the kitchen and living room a long-distance relationship.

"Corey (Perry) and I got a place together here in London for the summer," ex-Knights captain Danny Syvret said while promoting the Cup-winning team's celebration dinner, A Knight to Remember, at the John Labatt Centre Aug. 16. "It made sense since we both come back here every year and work out together. We both feel this is the place where we grew up. Most people have their high school or college friends, but for us, it was the guys on the team and the people we met here in London that we keep in touch with."

Syvret doesn't mind doing the dialing -- there's a trip to Toronto for a Blue Jays game set up for about 10 of those '05 Knights in a couple of weeks.

"I have everyone's number programmed into my cell phone," Syvret said. "The summers are hectic because we're all working hard to get ready for the hockey season. But we'll get together (on Aug. 16) and in a couple of years when a lot of us are more solidly rooted into hockey or other careers, we'll plan get-togethers for the team. This is a group that won't drift apart."

While plying his trade in Anaheim with the NHL's Ducks, Perry followed London's fortunes last year and spoke extensively with his brother, Adam, a Knights forward. Syvret, whose brother Corey is a London defenceman, got caught up on more of the news when forward Rob Schremp joined him on the surprising Edmonton Oilers after the OHL playoffs.

"It's hard to believe I'm an alumni now," Corey Perry said. "I got back here for one game during the Olympic break with London and Peterborough (he performed the ceremonial faceoff beforehand) and the Knights did a great job after losing a lot of guys from the year before.

"In Anaheim, we feel like we're going to turn some heads. We have Scott Niedermayer and made the trade to get Chris Pronger. The first year of pro for me was a learning experience. The players are bigger and faster and it's more intense but you have to play your own game or you're not going to succeed."

After unlimited ice time with one of the best junior teams of all-time, both players had to deal with the realities of accepting lesser roles with their NHL teams.

"It was frustrating because you want to be out there helping the team instead of watching," Syvret said. "But I wasn't an idiot. I knew the team had seven defencemen under contract and I was trying to create a job for myself. Edmonton's run reminded me a lot of our run in London. Everywhere you went, people had Oilers flags on their cars. People were excited and talking about hockey. Everything was magnified."

Midway through the season, Perry was demoted to the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates and he tore the circuit apart with 34 points in 19 games to earn a trip back to Anaheim.

"Ryan Getzlaf and I talked on the plane ride there that we weren't going to start acting like we were too good for the league," Perry said. "We just wanted to prove we belonged in the NHL and we worked as hard as we could to get back."

Living arrangements are always a big deal for young pro hockey players making their way on their own for the first time without parents or billets to watch over them. Perry and Syvret lucked out -- Perry snagged a pad one street down from the beach while Syvret was the lone rookie to get his own room on the road during the Oilers' playoff run.

"All the young players get paired up -- it says in the collective bargaining agreement that only players with something like 500 games played and five, or maybe it's 10, years service get their own room," Syvret said, "but I was the odd-man out because there was an uneven number of younger guys so I got my own room, which was pretty nice."

"I have everyone's number programmed into my cellphone," Syvret said. "The summers are hectic because we're all working hard to get ready for the hockey season. But we'll get together (on Aug. 16) and in a couple of years when a lot of us are more solidly rooted into hockey or other careers, we'll plan get-togethers for the team. This is a group that won't drift apart."

While plying his trade in Anaheim with the NHL's Ducks, Perry followed London's fortunes last year and spoke extensively with his brother, Adam, a Knights forward. Syvret, whose brother Corey is a London defenceman, got caught up on more of the news when forward Rob Schremp joined him on the Edmonton Oilers after the OHL playoffs.

"It's hard to believe I'm an alumni now," Corey Perry said. "I got back here for one game during the Olympic break with London and Peterborough (he performed the ceremonial faceoff) and the Knights did a great job after losing a lot of guys from the year before.

"In Anaheim, we feel like we're going to turn some heads. We have Scott Niedermayer and made the trade to get Chris Pronger. The first year of pro for me was a learning experience. The players are bigger and faster and it's more intense, but you have to play your own game or you're not going to succeed."

After unlimited ice time with one of the best junior teams ever, both players had to deal with the realities of accepting lesser roles with their NHL teams.

"It was frustrating because you want to be out there helping the team instead of watching," Syvret said. "But I wasn't an idiot. I knew the team had seven defencemen under contract and I was trying to create a job for myself. Edmonton's run reminded me a lot of our run in London. Everywhere you went, people had Oilers flags on their cars. People were excited and talking about hockey. Everything was magnified."

Midway through the season, Perry was demoted to the American Hockey League's Portland Pirates. He tore the circuit apart with 34 points in 19 games to earn a trip back to Anaheim.

"Ryan Getzlaf and I talked on the plane ride there that we weren't going to start acting like we were too good for the league. We just wanted to prove we belonged in the NHL and we worked as hard as we could to get back."

Living arrangements are always a big deal for young pro hockey players making their way for the first time without parents or billets to watch over them. Perry and Syvret lucked out -- Perry snagged a pad one street down from the beach, while Syvret was the lone rookie to get his own room on the road during the Oilers' playoff run.

"All the young players get paired up -- it says in the collective bargaining agreement that only players with something like 500 games played and five, or maybe it's 10, years service get their own room," Syvret said, "but I was the odd-man out because there was an uneven number of younger guys, so I got my own room, which was pretty nice."

2004-05 KNIGHTS: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

28. Adam Dennis: Will attend Buffalo Sabres training camp after his 2005-06 Knights overage season earned him top OHL goalie honours.

37. Gerald Coleman: Signed by Tampa Bay and made his NHL debut last season, splitting time between the Lightning and American Hockey League affiliate Springfield.

2. Frank Rediker: Played an oft-injured over-age season with the Knights in 2005-06.

3. Marc Methot: Signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets and played last season for the AHL's Syracuse Crunch.

4. Matt McCready: Began 2005-06 season with London and finished it with the Sarnia Sting after being traded for Matt Pelech.

7. Drew Larman: Signed by the Florida Panthers and became a consistent scorer with AHL's Rochester Americans.

10. Josh Beaulieu: Emerged into a physical force and trusty forward for the 2005-06 London Knights.

11. Trevor Kell: Veteran played for the 2005-06 Knights and spent time at both defence and forward.

16. Steve Ferry: Began 2005-06 season with London and finished it with the Sarnia Sting after being traded for Pelech.

17. Robbie Drummond: London native spent 2005-2006 season with the Knights by dramatically improving his scoring totals.

23. Kelly Thomson: Tough guy traded to Oshawa Generals during over-age season, but returned to assist Knights front office for 2006 playoffs.

25. Danny Syvret: Signed by the Edmonton Oilers and split time between Hamilton and the big club, including the Oilers' surprising run to the Stanley Cup final.

27. Ryan Martinelli: London native played for 2005-06 Knights and scored one of the franchise's memorable goals in playoff win over Guelph.

33. Brandon Prust: Signed by the Calgary Flames and led the AHL in fighting majors with the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights.

44. Rob Schremp: Signed by the Edmonton Oilers and joined the big club for the playoffs after leading the OHL in scoring with the Knights in 2005-06.

49. Danny Fritsche: Signed by Columbus and played for both the Blue Jackets and the AHL's Syracuse Crunch last year.

52. Jeff Whitfield: Big defenceman attended Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

55. Dan Girardi: Signed with the New York Rangers for the upcoming campaign after a splendid all-rookie season with the AHL's Hartford WolfPack.

57. Jordan Foreman: Became a London fan favourite by combining gritty hard work with goal scoring in a breakout 2005-06 season with the Knights.

71. Harrison Reed: Traded to Sarnia after the Memorial Cup win and received major ice time with the Sting in 2005-06.

74. Bryan Rodney: London native split the 2005-2006 season between AHL's Hartford WolfPack and Charlotte of the ECHL.

79. Dylan Hunter: Spent 2005-2006 as captain of the London Knights and signed with the Buffalo Sabres in June.

87. Adam Perry: Played with the 2005-06 Knights and was an effective power-play contributor.

91. David Bolland: Signed with the Chicago Blackhawksafter completing his OHL career with a world junior gold medal for Canada and a 57-goal season with the Knights.

94. Corey Perry: Signed by the Anaheim Ducks and split time between the big club and AHL's Portland Pirates.

A KNIGHT TO REMEMBER

What: A celebration of the 2005 Memorial Cup champion London Knights and their induction into the London Sports Hall of Fame in November. The entire team is expected to attend.

When: Aug. 16 at John Labatt Centre. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets: Full table is $1,000, $100 for single tickets (on sale through JLC box office). Proceeds go to London Sports Council and London Knights Booster Club.


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