Top Knights pick gone a month

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Scott Harrington has a broken wrist.

The London Knights first rounder is sporting a big purple cast after suffering the injury in a collision with Sarnia forward Miroslav Preisinger during his OHL preseason debut Friday at the John Labatt Centre.

That means no hockey for likely a month, maybe more, which means he'll miss the Knights' season opener against Windsor on Sept. 18.

And no note-taking at high school, which he found out during his first day of classes yesterday.

"I'm in better spirits now than I was when I found out," the 16-year-old Kingston native said. "In a way, it's better that it happened now while it's still the exhibition season rather than later in the year when we were in a playoff run."

Or during exam time and essay season. All that writing and typing adds up to wear and tear on even the healthiest of wrists.

"He hit it on the boards instead of the glass and the boards don't have any give," London assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu said. "There's nothing he could've done. It was one of those things and it's too bad.

"He was having a great camp for us."

London GM Mark Hunter hopes Harrington will be ready to go again in four weeks. The worst-case scenario, according to Hunter, is a six-week shutdown for the star defenceman nabbed with the 19th overall pick in the OHL draft last May.

"I can't do any upper body for a while," Harrington said, "but I'll be able to ride the bike and run a lot."

The injury isn't likely to force the Knights to immediately trade for help on an increasingly light blue-line. Veteran Owen Sound defenceman Michael D'Orazio, for instance, has demanded a trade and listed London, Windsor and Barrie as destinations for which he'd waive his no-movement clause.

"We're going to wait for a while and see what we have coming back from NHL camps," Mark Hunter said.

Michael Del Zotto is trying to crack the New York Rangers lineup. Hunter also got an update yesterday from Islanders GM Garth Snow on the status of Russian import Anton Klementyev, who is Knights property.

"He's going to go through their (the Islanders') camp," Hunter said. "We'll see what happens after that."

The Knights are 1-2 in the preseason, including a 3-1 loss Monday in Peterborough. They finish up against Plymouth on Friday at the JLC and Saturday in St. Thomas.

Over-age candidate Steve Tarasuk and Swedish import Kalle Ekelund were both banged up on the weekend but should be ready to go again by Friday.

"We've lost John Carlson and we're still waiting on Michael (Del Zotto) so it's easy to see why people think our biggest deficiency will be on defence this year," Tarasuk said. "But every season, the Knights find a way to put together a good team. I believe Mark Hunter will do what he has to do to make it happen."

Tarasuk, fellow over-ager Brandon Greenside and Matt Ashman will be leaned on early for big minutes. Rookie Jake Worrad and Harrington, even before his injury, were to be brought along slowly.

With so many forwards now gone at NHL camps, Tarasuk has even taken a few shifts up front.

"(Former Kitchener Rangers coach and Florida Panthers boss) Peter DeBoer would do that a few years ago just to get me in the lineup because he knew I could play both ways and we had so many strong defencemen," Tarasuk said. "I know, with only three over-age spots here, I have to do whatever I can to make sure I stay all year.

"I worked out all summer (in Thornhill) to try to get bigger. I want to play an important role on this team."

Ekelund could be the wild card. He is tall and rangy with much potential.

"He's still getting used to the smaller ice," Beaulieu said. "At 19-years-old, more is expected from him. From what we've seen, he has the talent to play at this level."

There are opportunities to play on the Knights' blue line this season. But if Tarasuk is right about Hunter, those spots won't stay vacant for very long.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca


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