Drummond honoured to wear C

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

It would make a compelling final chapter in a hometown boy's dream story.

When the London Knights take to the ice for their 2006-07 OHL season opener tonight against the Saginaw Spirit, a Londoner will be wearing the captain's C.

London native Rob Drummond was elected captain yesterday. The over-age centre joins Rick Green, Brad Marsh and Dave Simpson as London natives to captain the Knights.

"It's an honour," Drummond said yesterday. "I've learned a lot from the captains in the past. We've had some great ones. I hope to follow in their footsteps.

"It's a great feeling. I'm kind of overwhelmed right now. I expected to be a leadership guy this year. I never really knew what's going to happen. I'm just looking forward to the whole season."

Inquiring minds wanted to know who would be captain.

Since the beginning of training camp, they asked the question time and again. That wouldn't seem like much of a big deal, but the fact there was no standout choice reflected a stark reality -- this captain is going to have to take a greater role in helping a young team through the season.

"I have to bring leadership both on and off the ice," Drummond said. "Whenever guys need anything, they can come to me and talk about it. I have to be there for them when they're going through tough times. Just help them out wherever I can.

"We have a great group of older guys who are still around. They can lead the guys in the right direction.

"They've learned about the city and being a London Knight and carry on the tradition (of) the past."

Two years ago, Danny Syvret was a clear choice to become captain. There was no surprise when Dylan Hunter filled that role last year.

Both players, who took charge on the ice, led by example and personified the type of Knights team that's been so successful during the last three seasons.

Drummond will have to fill that role this year. He was a second-round draft choice of the Knights in 2002. He's struggled with injuries and finding his scoring touch, but he remains one of the best skaters in the league.

What has been lost in the Knights success on the ice, including the development of several NHL-calibre players, is that intangibles have played a major role in that success. As a season begins, you can assess talent and trade to fill holes, but it's difficult to assess the intangibles until a team faces stressful situations.

The Knights have responded well to those situations in large part because leaders such as Syvret, Hunter, David Bolland, Corey Perry and others did their job. Responding under pressure was vital to their string of successes.

Joining Drummond as a permanent alternate captain is Adam Perry. Four others -- David Meckler, Josh Beaulieu, Sergei Kostitsyn and Scott Aarssen -- will rotate as alternates at home and away.

The Knights have caught a break this year. In what's a rebuilding year, the Western Conference is bereft of dominant teams. Saginaw will be strong, Owen Sound is tough and Kitchener will always find a way to compete, but none of them leave a team shaking in their skates. In this mainstream of mediocrity, it will take a month before the strong and weak are separated.

The Knights will be entertaining as they toss the puck around offensively. Additions such as Pat Kane, Sam Gagner, young Phil McRae and 19-year-old collegian Meckler will replace some of the firepower they have lost.

Add returnee Jordan Foreman, who just had the cast removed from his foot, and the energy metre should be off the charts. If Kostitsyn has the kind of season he did last year, the Knights should have no problem scoring goals, especially on the power play.

But the Knights might want to say a prayer or 10 to the hockey gods to keep goalie Steve Mason healthy. Better yet, pray that the Mason they saw late last season, when he filled in for Adam Dennis, is the Mason they get this time around.

On defence, there may not be enough prayers to carry them through the year without some additions.

These Knights will be fun to watch, provided you don't suffer from anxiety attacks.


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