The best team in London Knights history will be honoured Thursday night as the best team in CHL history.
The 2004-05 squad was the first team to win the Memorial Cup in franchise history, 11 players on that team played in the NHL, including three who are still active. Corey Perry, Marc Methot and Dan Girardi.
Overall 13 players on the team played pro hockey.
“It just shows how great that team actually was. You don’t think about it when you’re playing but you look back, it’s been 13, 14 years, a lot of guys have gone on to do special things and that team was a special group of guys,” said Perry.
Perry and David Bolland are the only members of the team to go on and win a Stanley Cup. Perry has won virtually everything you can in hockey. Aside from the Memorial Cup and Stanley Cup, he’s won an Olympic gold medal, World Championship, World Junior Championship and a World Cup title. The only other person to do that is Scott Niedermayer.
It will be a trip down memory lane for Knights fans in attendance. Most of the team will be back. Perry, who is rehabbing an injured knee, will fly in from Anaheim for the game. The only players who won’t be back are those with previous commitments like Methot and Girardi (still playing in the NHL), Adam Dennis (coaching with the North Bay Battalion) and various Americans celebrating U.S. Thanksgiving.
The 2004-05 team was named the team of the century in May, at the end of the 100th Memorial Cup in Regina. The Knights began that season with a 31-game unbeaten streak so it’s fitting Thursday’s game comes with the current edition of the green and gold on a nine game win streak.
The roster featured offensive stars like Perry. Bolland and Rob Schremp. It had a top-four defence corps that will rank among the all-time best in captain Danny Syvret, Marc Methot, Dan Girardi and Londoner Bryan Rodney. As good as the team was, it actually had five home-grown London players. Rodney was joined by Brandon Prust and Rob Drummond and youngsters Scott Aarssen and Ryan Martinelli.
“It was an impressive team,” said Knights co-owner Mark Hunter. “It’s quite an honour to win as the best team in the CHL ever. It’s not just the OHL, it’s the CHL. It’s a credit to those young men, they deserve to be honoured.”
Rodney, Drummond and Josh Beaulieu are still active in the London hockey community. Many members of the team maintain strong ties to the London community.
All the Knights did in 2004-05 was win. After starting the year 29-0-2, they went on to lose only nine of the 90 games they played, including the Memorial Cup. They didn’t just win the first Memorial Cup in franchise history, they did it at home in front of the hometown fans, against Sidney Crosby.
The Knights didn’t lose a game until Dec. 12 when Bolland, Perry, Syvret, Schremp and Dan Fritsche were at world junior training camps.
Although most of the attention will always fall on London’s 4-0 shutout win in the Memorial Cup final, many fans who were there will tell you that the tournament opener between the teams in which the Knights fought back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Rimouski 4-3 in overtime on a game-winner by Methot was one of the best hockey games they have ever seen.
“It’s a tournament and a game I’m never going to forget. Tournaments like that, experiences like that create these bonds that people talk about when you win championships. I could still run into a guy like Girardi or Pears or Syvret and have a conversation with them and it’s not awkward. It’s like we were just together yesterday,” said Methot.
Commissioner David Branch will be Budweiser Gardens for the ceremony along with the Memorial Cup. The current team will honour the team of the century by wearing the same style of jerseys they wore 14 years ago. They will also wear special warmup jerseys, featuring the names of the 2004-05 team on the back. The warmup jersey’s will be sold after the game with proceeds going to charity.
You can hear Thursday’s game on 980 CFPL starting at 7 o’clock. There will be a special 15-minute pre-game ceremony as well as in-game tributes. Some members of the team will join Mike Stubbs live in studio Thursday afternoon on London Live from 1pm to 3pm.
The other finalists for Team of the Century were the 1995 Kamloops Blazers, the 2000 Rimouski Oceanic and the 2013 Halifax Mooseheads.
With files from Mike Stubbs.