The NHL is the highest level of hockey that exists in the world.
The best of the best come from far and wide to play in the big league, but a lot of the best come from a little closer to home. The Canadian Hockey League has provided the NHL with the best players to ever play the game, and they continue pump more talent into the league every year.
The Ontario Hockey League specifically have been particularly successful at sending the big names to the big show, and our focus this week is with one of the greatest junior teams in the game today.
The London Knights.
The Knights have a very rich history that dates back to its conception in the early 1960's. The Knights originally called the Nationals were a farm team for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
When the NHL sponsorship ended the Nationals, they became the Knights, but little success in the 70's and early 80's led to small crowds and the eventual sale of the team.
The club seemed to turn things around from their, finishing near the tops of their division in several consecutive years.
The Knights success really started to come in the Hunter years. Building strong teams year in and year out that eventually culminated in their unreal run in 2004-05. Highly regarded as one of the greatest teams in Junior history, the Knights went 31 games to start the season without a loss (29-0-2), and finished with only 7 losses in a 68 game season.
This run set a record for most points in a season, with 120. The previous record was set a season before by the very same London Knights.
The Knights went from there to win their first and only OHL title, as well as their only Memorial Cup.
The Knights have continued that success throughout the following years having only given up their division crown once since winning it all.
The Knights have sent over 140 players to play in the NHL, and the following is an all time all-star team comprised entirely of former London Knights.
Brendan Shanahan—Darryl Sittler—Dino Ciccarelli
Rick Nash—Garry Unger—Patrick Kane
Rick Kehoe—Walt McKechnie—Corey Perry
Dennis Maruk—John Tavares—Jason Allison
Brad Marsh—Rob Ramage
Steve Smith—Doug Crossman
Rick Green—Dennis Wideman
*This article was the first of a series of articles outlining the NHL's greatest feeder teams.
Image Courtesy: The Hockey News