LONDON, Ontario – Erie Otters rookie Connor McDavid encountered plenty of media attention in minor hockey. But it was nothing like what the highly touted No. 1 pick has faced since the OHL Priority Selection in the spring and, most recently, during the opening weekend of his OHL career.
“It’s been crazy. It’s going to take some getting used to,” said McDavid, who was asked for autographs by five people during the pre-game skate before Thursday’s season opener at Niagara. It’s no wonder he’s looking forward to the attention settling down as the season progresses.
However, he felt more comfortable before tonight’s game against London. “I’m forming into a routine,” he said.
* Behind the number: Overage center J.P. Labardo chose No. 22 on his sweater to show his appreciation to former Otters center Phil Varone – his close friend and mentor. They have been friends since Varone’s father taught them the finer points of power skating when they were kids.
Varone, now a Buffalo Sabres prospect, gave Labardo some advice after Thursday’s game in St. Catharines. “I don’t feel any pressure to wear that number,” Labardo said. “It’s an honor to wear it.”
* Showing his true self: Veteran forward Connor Crisp showed glimpses of his offensive skill during his one-goal performance Thursday. Now that he’s healthy, Crisp hopes to show more of his skill.
“I know I can put the puck in the net,” said Crisp, who was on a line with Labardo and Luke Cairns for the second straight game. “I know I can help those guys out.”
* Focused and ready: Rookie goaltender Oscar Dansk was a man of few words before tonight’s game. When asked to assess his performance in his OHL debut Thursday, he said, “Not good enough because we lost.” When asked what he wants to improve on tonight, he said, “Win.”
* News and notes: Dane Fox wrote on Twitter that he miss another six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery on his right foot. … Rookie defenseman Justin Felker made his OHL debut after being a healthy scratch in Thursday’s season opener at Niagara. … The Otters scratched defensemen Liam Maaskant and Travis Wood as well as winger Mitch Eisenberg (upper-body injury). … Jeff Paul, who played for the Niagara Falls Thunder/Erie Otters from 1994-99, is an assistant coach with the Knights. … Dale Hunter officially returned behind the Knights bench after coaching the NHL’s Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup playoffs a season ago. … London’s 2011-12 OHL championship banner was raised to the rafters in a pregame ceremony.
– Victor Fernandes