This trade was Taylor-made for Knights

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

So many things to talk about, so little space ...

Since Mark and Dale Hunter have taken over the London Knights, they've made a lot of trades.

Ranking at the top of the list is one that didn't garner a lot of headlines at the time. It ranks up there not only because of what the player has become but also how little the Knights paid to get him.

In January 2007, Hunter coughed up a fifth-round draft pick to Kingston for Justin Taylor, the Frontenacs' sixth-round pick in the 2005 OHL draft off the London Junior Knights.

"We've always really liked him," Mark Hunter said at the time.

They like him a lot more now.

Taylor has always been a reliable, solid player. He isn't flashy, but he knows how to play. He's developed an uncanny ability to be where the puck is. He's tough, doesn't mind answering the bell when he has to, works corners and the front of the net without fear. He's also a responsible player who will play a defensive role if that's what it takes to win.

He's put together a career year. He's scored 37 goals, including seven game-winners, and 30 assists.

Taylor kills penalties, works the power play and does just about everything else asked of him.

Everyone in Knights' Nation is excited about John Tavares, Nazem Kadri and John Carlson.

On the basis of this season's play, Taylor is the Knights' most valuable player.

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The Ontario Hockey League coach of the year and executive of the year awards are headed to the Rose City. All that's missing is the engraving.

Windsor Spitfires Bob Boughner will win the coaching award and his owner, partner and general manager Warren Rychel will top out in the executive category.

Both awards would be well deserved.

It won't be much of a contest but George Burnett in Belleville will get some consideration.

We've said it before and we'll say it again. Dave MacQueen of the Sarnia Sting has done as good a job as anyone behind an OHL bench this year.

No one knows what's going to happen at the end of this year with that franchise. MacQueen has had that team battling all year. They can still finish has high as fourth, although a sixth-place finish looks more likely.

Considering what he has to work with, that's darn near miraculous.

When the OHL trade deadline came around, there was some question whether the Sting would be sellers or buyers. Surprisingly, they wound up being neither.

The Sting will be graduating most of what few impact players they had this year. MacQueen has earned the chance to keep coaching but barring a most miraculous OHL priority draft, he is going to need more than just the opportunity to coach -- he's going to need time to build a team that can actually play.

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You've got to love Spitfires defenceman Ryan Ellis. He has all the skills a big-time hockey player needs including the gift of dealing with the media. Watching him is a treat.

But he got away with one when the Knights and Spitfires played in Windsor on Sunday.

His hit on Mike Yovanic started the free-for-all in the first period that saw several players get the boot.

It started with a delayed penalty on the Spitfires. Yovanic tired to carry the puck over the blueline. There is some debate about whether the play was blown dead because of the delayed penalty or because of an offside. No matter. Yovanic heard the whistle, eased up as he crossed the blueline and was nailed with a hip check by Ellis at least two seconds after the whistle. After the ensuing brouhaha, Yovanic limped off.

The league reviewed the tape but only to deal with the fighting that ensued.

The check was clean, but the timing wasn't.

OHL vice-president Ted Baker said there was no review of the check and no request was made to review it.

I wonder if that would have been the case if the situation were reversed?

morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca


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