Ovie a role model for Taylor

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Justin Taylor is a hustler.

The veteran London Knights forward knows it's how he'll make a living in hockey -- through effort, grit and sweat every moment on the ice.

At the Washington Capitals training camp, Taylor didn't need to look far to find that kind of role model. It came from the same player everyone was watching.

"You're on the ice with Alexander Ovechkin and he's the hardest-working guy out there," said the 19-year-old Londoner and Caps' sixth-rounder in 2007. "He had the same intensity the whole time and it's nice to see. The best player in the NHL and that's the effort he puts out on every drill. It's an eye-opener. If he can do it like that, there's no reason everybody else can't.

"You see what it takes to be the best. I'm definitely taking that lesson back with me."

Taylor was returned to the Knights late Tuesday and practised with the club yesterday. After Ovechkin's example, don't expect to hear about head coach Dale Hunter or assistant Pat Curcio having to chew out Taylor for dogging it during a drill.

"I want to build on what I've done the first two years here in terms of points," said Taylor, a six-foot, 185-pounder who plays his 100th OHL game tomorrow night against Windsor. "From what I've seen, the team looks good. Hopefully, we can keep putting up the Ws to keep Mark (GM Mark Hunter) happy so he doesn't have to make a bunch of changes."

Taylor returns as the team's highest career scorer still on the roster (73 points in 99 games). He had 26 goals last year in his first full season.

With Washington, he roomed with fellow Knight John Carlson, a first-round pick for the Capitals this summer.

"You get to know someone over two weeks in that kind of situation," Taylor said. "He's a big, laid-back guy who just loves to play hockey. He handled himself and the puck well out there on defence and earned himself a spot in an exhibition game (last night at Carolina)."

Carlson is expected back in London soon. From their room, the pair tried to pick up the first three Knights games on the Internet.

"But the server hardly worked so we listened to the games on the radio," Taylor said. "Going to camp was a great experience. You went in around 8 a.m., punched the clock until two or three (p.m.), then you had the rest of the night off and were told not to do anything stupid.

"It was my second camp. This time, my goal was to make it through rookie camp to the main one and I did that. Next year, the goal will be to play in a (exhibition) game and make it through camp."

The Knights also got another player back -- 2008 import first-rounder Sergei Korostin, who was assigned to the OHL club from the Dallas Stars.

The 19-year-old Russian was scheduled to arrive in London last night, but he won't be able to play in a game until the OHL secures his release from the Russian federation through the International Ice Hockey Federation.

"I'll say he's here when I see him in a sweater with a number on his back and skating on the ice," Mark Hunter said. "He's a top three line guy and he's a shooter, which we needed more of here. We've got a lot of guys who are good playmakers."

The top-ranked Spitfires are in a similar boat. Their first-round import selection Andrei Loktionov shares Korostin's release issues.

Knightwatch

Tomorrow: vs. Windsor Spitfires, 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre

Sunday: at Guelph, 2 p.m.


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