Crash, Flash, Hutch return to Knights

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

The latest wave of NHL cuts this week washed a trio of treasures back to the London Knights' dressing room door.

Crash, Flash and Hutch.

Zac Rinaldo, Phil McRae and goalie Michael Hutchinson.

That's quite the catch all at once.

First, Crash.

Zac Rinaldo knows the path to Philly. He appeared in one preseason game against New Jersey and figured one thing out: It's hard to hammer opponents playing the trap but he still found a way. He got aggressive against the Devils power play.

"I was born to be a Flyer," the 19-year-old forward said. "They have some tough guys on that team. They like hitting and I have a talent for it."

Rinaldo was the OHL's penalty leader last season. That was important to him at the time.

Not anymore. "My first few years in the O, I felt like I had to make a name for myself, "but I'm over that now. I'm here to do what'll make me a better player. I'm back here to hit some kids and hopefully score some goals. I don't want to be considered one-dimensional. When I get to Philly, I know it'll be the same my first two years there. I'll probably have to fight and hit and work my way up from the fourth line." "

From Crash to Flash?

McRae is a different sort of player. This time, the skilled McRae finally got a shot to show the St. Louis Blues what he can do. He missed his first NHL training camp with mono last fall.

"A great experience," said McRae, 19. "I learned a lot there. I got in an exhibition game against Colorado, too, and they had all their main guys in that game. I didn't get a point, but I thought I played well."

McRae should play the starring role in London. He has the talent and ability to lead this team in scoring.

"One of the biggest things was I didn't really shoot enough," the six-foot-three, 195-pounder said. "I learned from the NHL that you have to shoot from anywhere because you don't get a lot of chances. You have to take advantage of any one you get."

The Knights need his touch.

The United States world junior program will be watching. He has tried out the past two summers.

"Right now, it's the best time because all the camps are over and the season's starting and you can focus all your attention on just helping this team (the Knights) win," he said.

He can be the star. Or maybe, it'll be big Hutch.

The Boston Bruins liked Hutchinson, the big right-catching goalie from Barrie, enough to keep him around a few extra days in camp.

"That felt great because I didn't expect it," he said. "Just being able to watch (Bruins goalies) Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask, I saw how hard they work in practice.

"I'm really going to put those work habits into my practices, too."

Hutchinson has the Brick House -- rookie Michael Houser -- pushing for ice after beating Windsor in London's opener.

"It's nice to have a tandem," London head coach Dale Hunter said. "The season's long so it's hard to ride one guy most of the way. Michael Houser did very well. He wants to win."

Hunter called for a stick measurement on Spitfires star Taylor Hall in the first period. Windsor coach Bob Boughner thought Hunter was trying to get in his player's head.

"It looked like it (Hall's curve) was big," Hunter said. "It was early in the season and we took a chance. We were trying to get a five-on-three and it didn't work, but all it ended up costing us was a power play."

The schedule isn't easy with contender Toronto on Friday at home and strong Plymouth in Michigan on Saturday. The three returnees should help.

The Knights are still waiting on three more -- Michael Del Zotto with the Rangers (he's one of eight defencemen still in camp), Nazem Kadri with the Leafs, and defender Anton Klementyev with the Islanders.

"You just have to wait and see what happens," Hunter said.

For now, the London crew is just happy to have Crash, Flash and Hutch back in the fold.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

KNIGHTWATCH

Friday: Knights vs. Toronto St. Michael's Majors, 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre

Saturday: Knights at Plymouth, 7:05 p.m.


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