'There will be more if they don't listen'

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

The London Knights traded Akim Aliu after Christmas.

Newcomer John Tavares wore the captain's C for three games earlier this month.

Finally, they made Nazem Kadri a healthy scratch on Sunday against Sarnia.

Does the coaching staff have the players' attention yet?

"I'd hope so," said assistant coach Pat Curcio, "and if not, I'm sure Dale (head coach Dale Hunter) has a couple more things up his sleeve.

"Nazem was the first but there will be more if they don't listen and play the way we want them to play. That's what's happened here the past month and a half. We've watched the videos. We've made changes. We've stayed up until four in the morning sometimes going over what needs to be done.

"We have (eight) games left and we can't have players disobey what they're told to do so there will be discipline. Playoff series can be decided by one or two mistakes so we're going to correct those things now."

Kadri was scratched the day after watching a star on his favourite NHL team -- Alexei Kovalev of the Montreal Canadiens -- respond to a club-imposed sit down by leading the Habs to a win over Ottawa. Curcio said that was coincidental and the team had discussed such a radical move before Montreal did it.

"It was a wake-up call," Kadri said. "I showed up (at the rink on Sunday) and met with Mark (GM Mark Hunter), Dale and Pat and we talked about it. No one wants to sit out. But it's not the worst thing that could happen. I'm just going to get ready to play Guelph (tonight)."

The puck tends to follow Kadri. That's part of what makes him a special player and why the team has favoured a possession style.

But the Knights don't want him and his mates to turn it over in vulnerable spots on the ice or try to deke through a crowd of defenders.

"It's about keeping it simple," Kadri said. "Make the easy plays. Dump it if you have to. You don't want to take all the creativity out but it doesn't have to always be the fancy (play)."

Kadri sat out only one game and can't wait to play again. But fellow Knight Dominic DeSando knows the sting of sitting out five months after shoulder surgery.

The 18-year-old Londoner impressed at the start of the season before going under the knife. He's appeared in five more since recovering and has brought some needed energy to the club for the playoff run.

"It was the worst possible thing to have happen (getting hurt again)," DeSando said. "You have two months off in the summer, play three games, and then you're out. It just got to the point where I needed the surgery.

"I could've had it done in the summer but I didn't feel I was in a position on this team to do that. I wanted to make the team and I give the Hunters a lot of credit. I thought I'd come back and play junior B but they gave me a chance here and said they'd see how it goes."

DeSando drew an assist on Sunday. He has hit hard, been hit, blocked shots with his upper body and engaged in a fight.

"In practice, (still-suspended) Zac Rinaldo and I would wrestle around to test out how the shoulder would feel in a fight," DeSando said. "It's fine. As I was coming back, we had contact drills and I was hit a bunch of times and knew then I could come back.

"I really give props to (athletic therapist) Andy Scott and my trainer Mark Regan. I'd never have made it back like this without them."

Rinaldo has three games left on his eight-game suspension for hitting Erie's Andrew Yogan from behind. The Otters are back in London on Friday.

Forward Tucker Hunter will miss the next two games after mixing it up with Sarnia's Matt Martin on Sunday. The Sting captain will also sit for a pair.

KNIGHTWATCH

Tonight: at Guelph, 7 p.m.

Friday: vs. Erie, 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre. It's House of Pink night. The Knights will wear commemorative pink jerseys for a live auction and the team asks fans to dress in pink to show support for breast cancer awareness.

Sunday: vs. Kingston, 3 p.m. at the JLC.


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