Ex-Knights follow rocky road

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

There aren't a lot of similarities between Ottawa Senators forwards Chris Kelly and Danny Bois.

But there are two obvious ones. Both are former London Knights and both have had to scratch and claw their way to professional hockey careers.

After five years as a pro, Kelly has managed to carve himself a pretty good spot on the Senators roster. As a junior, he was a solid forward known for his scoring. As a pro, he's become a reliable defensive player who last year showed some his offensive skill. He was rewarded recently with a new contract.

"It's a nice feeling," said Kelly, at the John Labatt Centre last night for the NHL preseason game between his Senators and the Philadelphia Flyers. "I'm really looking forward to the season."

Kelly has played in 164 straight regular season games and in every Ottawa postseason game (30) since 2005-06.

"I'm really pleased. It's been a lot of work, but it's paid off."

It was the first time Kelly played at the JLC. His last game for the Knights was at the Ice House.

Bois is still trying to make the bigs. He's spent the last three years with the Senators' AHL farm team in Binghamton. N.Y., and he also just signed a two-year contract.

As a captain, Bois was one of the most popular Knights of recent times. His popularity stemmed from the fact he would go through a brick wall if it meant a win.

Where Kelly was smooth, Bois was a tough-nosed digger who could clog up the front of the net with the best of them.

That intensity often got him into penalty and suspension trouble. But there was no doubting his work ethic and a strong desire to improve.

How close he is to making a breakthrough like Kelly is something that's difficult for him to assess.

"How close I am, and how close they think I am, may be totally different," Bois said. "I got to play a game last year and I felt pretty comfortable. If I get an opportunity, I think I'll do well. What they see though may be different than what I see."

In his only NHL game against Washington, he set a team record for most penalty minutes (seven) in a debut.

"For me to make it, I have to do what I've always done," Bois said. "I have to be an aggressive forechecker, play hard. If you have to get in a fight or two, then you have to do that as well."

But you don't stick around, even in the minors for long if you don't have something to offer.

"I've become more disciplined as a player. You learn not to take as many penalties. Guys are bigger and stronger so you tend not to get suspended as much.

"The big thing for me was learning how to control my emotions. You can't let emotions get the best of you.

"Every year you think you get a little faster, a little better with the puck and you just hope they notice."

Kelly and Bois got a nice round of applause when they were introduced as starters.

Kelly has heard it many times from the Ottawa fans. Bois hopes it's something he'll hear regularly.

"No one's ever given me a spot," he said. "I feel comfortable clawing and scratching. That's just the way it is."


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