London Knights
CityLondon, Ontario
LeagueOntario Hockey League
Home arenaBudweiser Gardens
ColoursGreen, yellow, black, and white
General managerMark Hunter
Head coachDale Hunter
Affiliate(s)London Nationals, St. Thomas Stars
ChampionshipsMemorial Cup: 2005, 2016
OHL: 2005, 2012, 2013, 2016
Franchise history
1965–1968London Nationals
1968–presentLondon Knights

The London Knights are a junior ice hockey team from London, Ontario, Canada, playing in the Ontario Hockey League, one of the leagues of the Canadian Hockey League. The Knights started out in 1965 as the London Nationals but changed to their current name in 1968. The Knights have won two Memorial Cup championships.


Early days

The London Nationals were granted a franchise in the OHA for the 1965–66 season under the ownership of the London Gardens arena, with the Toronto Maple Leafs controlling the team's players.[1] Upon the collapse of the Metro Junior A League in 1963, the Leafs were left with only one sponsored OHA team, the Toronto Marlboros, with which to place their prospects. The team in London replaced the old Toronto St. Michael's Majors, who had folded a couple of years earlier. The Leafs originally wanted the Nationals to begin play in 1963–64, but it wasn't until a year later that the Nats became the Leafs' second team.[citation needed]

The Nationals were named for their sponsor, the Canadian National Recreation Association, an organization of Canadian National Railways employees, and took their uniforms as copies of those of the Maple Leafs, except for the words "London Nationals" spelled out on the Leaf instead of the familiar Toronto Maple Leafs script.[citation needed]

Brian Murphy played the most games for the Nationals, 98 in total over three seasons. Garry Unger led the team in career goals with 42 in only 50 games. Walt McKechnie was their all-time point leader with 26 goals, and 74 assists, totalling 100 points.[citation needed]

After three seasons, direct NHL sponsorship of junior teams ended. The team and Gardens was sold to businessman Howard Darwin for $500,000, who renamed the team to the Knights and changed the colours to green and gold.[2]

The Darwin era: 1968–1986

In 1968, businessman Howard Darwin bought the London Nationals (he also owned the Ottawa 67's) as the era of NHL sponsorship of junior hockey ended. Darwin wanted to give a fresh look to the team, and so held a contest to rename the team. Londoner Brian Logie[3] suggested the name Knights, and the team's colours were changed to green, white and gold. In 1970 the team also hired trainer Don Brankley, who stayed with the team until retiring at the end of the 2007–08 season. The team grew from a chronic also-ran in the late 1960s and early 1970s to a contender near the end of the decade. The highlight of the Darwin era came in 1976–77, when a powerful Knights team led by future NHLers Rob Ramage, Brad Marsh and Dino Ciccarelli defeated the St. Catharines Fincups in the conference final on an overtime goal by Dan Eastman to advance to the OHL final against the 67's. However, the 67's were triumphant in six games in the league final. Following the retirement of long time head coach Bill Long following the 1979–80 season the franchise struggled to find success under new coach Paul McIntosh. Don Boyd was hired as McIntosh's replacement starting the 1983–84 season and the Knights fortunes began to improve. The Knights finished second in the Emms Division during the 1984–85 season lead by future NHL players Brian Bradley, Dave Lowry, Jeff Reese, Bob Halkidis and Jim Sandlak. Despite the team's depth, they were eliminated 3 games to 1 by the Hamilton Steelhawks in the second round of the playoffs. The following two seasons saw the team struggle under the newly hired head coach Wayne Maxner in spite of the emergence of future NHL star Brendan Shanahan. The 1985–86 team grabbed the final playoff spot in the Emms division during the last weekend of the regular season before exiting the playoffs 4-0-1 against the North Bay Centennials, while the 1986–87 Knights failed to qualify for the playoffs.[citation needed]

New Owners, new dawn: 1986–1994

In 1986 Howard Darwin sold the Knights and the arena to Paris, Ontario businessmen Jack Robillard, Al Martin and Bob Willson. The trio also owned the Hamilton Steelhawks. The Knights were sold for a dollar but the London Gardens was sold at market value. The new ownership group modified the team's logo, which incorporated black into the color scheme and renovated the Gardens. Under their stewardship the Knights would go on a run of success. Between 1987 and 1993 the team would finish no lower than third in the Emms Division, including a division title in 1989–90. However, regular season success did not translate into playoff success, as the Knights would never make the league final in these years.[citation needed]

"Knightmare" and redemption: 1994–2000

In 1994 the Knights were sold to St. Thomas, Ontario, real estate developer Doug Tarry, Sr.. He died before the team had played a game under his ownership, and the team was inherited by his son, Doug Tarry, Jr.. Upon taking command, Tarry carried out further renovations on the Gardens including a name change to the "London Ice House." He also alienated a fair portion of the team's fan base by changing the team's colors from green, gold and black to eggplant and teal, and changing the logo to a cartoon logo instantly and derisively nicknamed "Spiderknight"[4] by the faithful.

The Knights' 1995–96 OHL season went down as the worst in the history of the Canadian Hockey League. The Knights set a new record for futility by finishing with nine points and a 3–60–3 record. The years following the so-called "Knightmare" season were improved, but the team was still a long way from the league's upper echelon. Meanwhile, the Ice House was falling apart as the Tarry family had stopped putting money into it as a part of their lobbying the city of London for a new arena. However, the re-signing of former Head Coach Gary Agnew, and the signing of future NHLers Rico Fata and Tom Kostopoulos heralded a marked turnaround for the team's fortunes. In 1999, the Knights went on an unexpected playoff run, in which they defeated the number-one-in-the-CHL Plymouth Whalers in seven games in the quarterfinals and ultimately went all the way to the OHL championship, which they lost in seven games to the Belleville Bulls.[citation needed]

The Hunter era: 2000–present

In 2000, former NHL players Dale Hunter, Mark Hunter and Basil McRae bought the Knights from Doug Tarry Jr. The sale was brokered by George Georgopoulos, who was negotiating with the city of London for the development of a state of the art multipurpose entertainment centre and arena – the John Labatt Centre. The Hunters began the process of rebuilding by firstly joining in the lobbying for a new 9,900 seat arena in Downtown London and putting together a smart scouting network. The Ice House was scheduled to be sold and closed at the conclusion of the 2001–02 OHL season, and as a treat for their fans, the Knights changed back to the 1986–94 green, gold and black color scheme in February 2002. In October that year the Labatt Centre opened, and new uniforms featuring black as the dominate color debuted. The 2003–04 OHL season would mark the beginning of a remarkable dynasty. The Knights had the best regular season record in the CHL and set an OHL record with 110 points, but lost the OHL Western Conference final to the Guelph Storm. In the 2004–05 season, the Knights set a new CHL record by going 31 games in a row without a loss (29–0–2).[5] The previous record of 29 games, held by the 1978–79 Brandon Wheat Kings (who went 25–0–4 during their streak), was broken with a 0–0 tie against the Guelph Storm on December 10, 2004. The streak ended at 31 games after a 5–2 loss to the Sudbury Wolves on December 17. The Knights finished the season with 120 points (59 wins, 7 losses, 2 ties), breaking their own OHL record set the previous season. In the playoffs, the Knights started by sweeping two best-of-seven series against the Guelph Storm and Windsor Spitfires. In the Western Conference final, the Knights defeated the Kitchener Rangers 4–1 to win the Wayne Gretzky Trophy. In the OHL finals against the Ottawa 67's, the Knights won the series 4–1 to win their first J. Ross Robertson Cup, ending the longest championship drought in the CHL. That same year, the London Knights and the John Labatt Centre (renamed Budweiser Gardens in 2012) were awarded the right to host 2005 Memorial Cup Tournament, which was played from May 21 to May 29. In the tournament, they defeated the Rimouski Océanic 4–3 on May 21, the Kelowna Rockets 4–2 on May 23, and the Ottawa 67's 5–2 on May 26. This earned the Knights a bye into the championship game. On May 29, the Knights defeated Rimouski 4–0 to win their first Memorial Cup. In 2005–06, the team won their third consecutive Hamilton Spectator Trophy for winning the regular season title, but their run into the playoffs ended with a loss to Peterborough in the OHL final. In 2006–07 the Knights continued their run of success, winning their fourth consecutive Hamilton Spectator Trophy as regular season champions. However, they lost the Western Conference Championship to the Plymouth Whalers.[citation needed]

On January 9, 2009, the London Knights made a blockbuster trade. They acquired hockey phenom and future number one pick in the 2009 NHL draft, John Tavares, from the Oshawa Generals. The Knights also received defenceman Michael Del Zotto and goaltender Darryl Borden. In return, the Generals received defenceman Scott Valentine, forward Christian Thomas, goaltender Michael Zador, four second-round draft picks (2009–12) and two third-round picks (2010–11). After a strong 2009–10 season, the Knights decided to turn to young players for the 2010–11 season. They traded several veterans for future draft picks throughout the season, and at the deadline in hopes of re-building another contender.[citation needed]

On November 28, 2011, Dale Hunter resigned as head coach to become head coach of his former NHL team, the Washington Capitals. Brother Mark Hunter assumed the coaching helm. Under Mark's guidance, the Knights won their second OHL title in 2011–12, defeating the Niagara IceDogs four games to one in the league final and advancing to the 2012 Memorial Cup. The Knights finished the round robin in first place, but lost in the championship final 2–1 in overtime to the host Shawinigan Cataractes.[citation needed]

Despite a successful season in Washington — coaching the struggling Capitals to the playoffs and an upset of the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the first round before being eliminated by the New York Rangers — Dale Hunter announced on May 14, 2012, he would not return to coach the Capitals in the 2012–13 season, choosing instead to return to the London Knights.[6]

With Hunter once again behind the bench, the Knights continued their winning ways in the 2012–13 season, handily leading the league with 105 points in the regular season en route to their second-straight Hamilton Spectator Trophy. They then cruised through the first three rounds of the playoffs, defeating the Saginaw Spirit, Kitchener Rangers and Plymouth Whalers in four, five and five games respectively. The Knights capped their OHL season with a thrilling game seven win over the Barrie Colts as Bo Horvat scored the game-winning goal in the last second of the third period to capture the Knights' second consecutive J. Ross Robertson Cup.[7] At the 2013 Memorial Cup the Knights finished 1–2 in the round robin, forcing them to play a tie-breaker against the host Saskatoon Blades. Though the Knights handily defeated the Blades 6–1, they lost to the Portland Winterhawks 2–1 in the semifinal.[citation needed]

London finished the 2013–14 season third in the OHL with 103 regular season points. However, the only two teams above them were their division opponents, the Guelph Storm and Erie Otters, thus denying the Knights a third straight division title. After sweeping the Windsor Spitfires in the first round the Knights were eliminated by the Storm in five games. Nevertheless, the Knights earned a berth in the 2014 Memorial Cup, their third straight, by virtue of being selected to host the tournament the day after winning the OHL championship the year before.[8] Faced with stiff competition, the Knights finished last in the round robin and were eliminated from the tournament.[citation needed]

On October 21, 2014, Mark Hunter resigned as Knights general manager after being appointed director of player personnel for the Toronto Maple Leafs.[9] Basil McRae succeeded Hunter as GM, though Hunter retained his ownership interest in the Knights and continued as vice president of the team.[citation needed]

The 2014–15 season was a rebuilding for the Knights. Despite this, the team finished second in the Midwest division and made it to the second round of the playoffs before being swept by the Erie Otters.[citation needed]

A renewed and powerful Knights team finished the 2015–16 season tied with the Erie Otters for the league lead with 105 points, but were denied the Hamilton Spectator Trophy by virtue of a tiebreaker. In the first round of the playoffs the Owen Sound Attack forced a sixth game before the Knights finished them off and began a thirteen-game winning streak, sweeping the Kitchener Rangers, Erie Otters and Niagara IceDogs en route to their third OHL championship and fourth Memorial Cup appearance in five seasons. The Knights entered the 2016 Memorial Cup as favourites due to their impressive winning streak and did not disappoint, dominating the round robin and outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 20–5. In the championship game, the Knights faced off against the CHL number-one ranked Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The Huskies pushed the Knights to the limit, carrying a 2–1 lead late into the third period before Christian Dvorak scored with 4:11 remaining to force overtime, where a goal by Matthew Tkachuk earned the Knights their 17th-straight win and second Memorial Cup championship.[citation needed]


The London Knights have won the Memorial Cup tournament two times, won the J. Ross Robertson Cup four times, won the Western Conference six times, and have won thirteen division titles.


Canadian Hockey League

Ontario Hockey League


The London Nationals were coached by Jack McIntyre for the 1965–66 season. For their second and third seasons from 1966 to 1968, the Nationals were coached by Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Turk Broda.

London Knights coaches have won the Matt Leyden Trophy, emblematic of the OHL's Coach of the Year, five times. Bill Long won it once, in 1976–77, Gary Agnew twice, in 1992–93 and in 1997–98, and Dale Hunter twice, in 2003–04 and 2004–05. Dale Hunter also won the Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year Award, emblematic of CHL Coach of the Year honours, in 2003–04. Former NHLer, Dave Gagner left the team during the summer of 2008 to accept a position with the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL.

As London Nationals:

As London Knights:

Notes: Mike Fedorko was entering his second season as Knights' coach and GM in the autumn of 1995. He was fired in October 1995 when the Knights began the season with a 13-game losing streak. Assistant Murray Nystrom took over coaching duties temporarily. Tom Barrett, who had led the Kitchener Rangers to the 1984 Memorial Cup, was named head coach in December. Barrett died of cancer in April 1996, shortly after the conclusion of the season. Moe Mantha was originally named the head coach to take over from Barrett, but left to coach the Baltimore Bandits of the American Hockey League before coaching a game. Brad Selwood was ultimately named Barrett's replacement for 1996–97 but was fired mid-season and GM Paul McIntosh took over on an interim basis for the rest of the season. Gary Agnew was rehired at the start of 1997–98.[10]


NHL or WHA alumni

The following is a complete list of London Knights who later played in the National Hockey League or World Hockey Association.[citation needed]

London Nationals
London Knights

First round picks in NHL or WHA drafts

The London Knights have produced more first overall selections in the NHL Entry Draft (5) than any other team in the world.[citation needed] The Knights also produced one first overall selection in the 1977 WHA Amateur Draft (Scott Campbell by the Houston Aeros), who started his professional career in that league.[citation needed] London is also ranked third (behind Peterborough and Oshawa) on the all-time list of number of players drafted by the NHL, with 142 as of 2007.[citation needed]

The following players were selected in the first round of the NHL entry draft:[citation needed]

The following players were selected in the first round of the WHA amateur draft:[citation needed]

Retired numbers

List of numbers retired by the London Knights.[11]

Hall of Famers

List of London Knights players in the Hockey Hall of Fame.[citation needed]

Season-by-season results

Regular season

Legend: OTL = Overtime loss, SL = Shoot Out Loss

Season Games Won Lost Tied OTL SL Points Pct % Goals
Standing Playoffs
1965–66 48 12 29 7 - - 31 0.323 149 235 9th OHA Missed Playoffs
1966–67 48 18 21 9 - - 45 0.469 185 214 6th OHA Lost in Quarterfinals
1967–68 54 17 31 6 - - 40 0.370 177 262 7th OHA Lost in Quarterfinals
1968–69 54 19 26 9 - - 47 0.435 242 258 7th OHA Lost in Quarterfinals
1969–70 54 22 25 7 - - 51 0.472 209 238 6th OHA Lost in Semifinals
1970–71 62 19 35 8 - - 46 0.371 232 281 8th OHA Lost in Quarterfinals
1971–72 63 23 31 9 - - 55 0.437 253 285 8th OHA Lost in Quarterfinals
1972–73 63 33 22 8 - - 74 0.587 334 246 4th OHA Lost in Semifinals
1973–74 70 36 27 7 - - 79 0.564 282 250 4th OHA Lost in Quarterfinals
1974–75 70 26 37 7 - - 59 0.421 296 368 9th OHA Missed Playoffs
1975–76 66 31 26 9 - - 71 0.538 317 256 2nd Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1976–77 66 51 13 2 - - 104 0.788 379 203 2nd Emms Lost OHL Championship
1977–78 68 35 22 11 - - 81 0.596 333 251 1st Emms Lost in Semifinals
1978–79 68 37 29 2 - - 76 0.559 310 287 2nd Emms Lost in Semifinals
1979–80 68 26 38 4 - - 56 0.412 328 334 5th Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1980–81 68 20 48 0 - - 40 0.294 300 388 6th Emms Missed Playoffs
1981–82 68 35 30 3 - - 73 0.537 359 328 3rd Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1982–83 70 32 37 1 - - 65 0.464 336 339 5th Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1983–84 70 32 37 1 - - 65 0.464 288 319 4th Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1984–85 66 43 22 1 - - 87 0.659 340 276 2nd Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1985–86 66 28 33 5 - - 61 0.462 271 292 6th Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1986–87 66 25 39 2 - - 52 0.394 259 329 7th Emms Missed Playoffs
1987–88 66 40 22 4 - - 84 0.636 309 273 2nd Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1988–89 66 37 25 4 - - 78 0.591 311 264 3rd Emms Lost in Semifinals
1989–90 66 41 19 6 - - 88 0.667 313 246 1st Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1990–91 66 38 25 3 - - 79 0.598 301 270 3rd Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1991–92 66 37 25 4 - - 78 0.591 310 260 3rd Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1992–93 66 32 27 7 - - 71 0.538 323 292 3rd Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1993–94 66 32 30 4 - - 68 0.515 293 279 5th Emms Lost in Quarterfinals
1994–95 66 18 44 4 - - 40 0.303 210 309 4th Western Lost in Quarterfinals
1995–96 66 3 60 3 - - 9 0.068 179 435 5th Western Missed Playoffs
1996–97 66 13 51 2 - - 28 0.212 215 365 5th Western Missed Playoffs
1997–98 66 40 21 5 - - 85 0.644 301 238 1st Western Lost in Conference Final
1998–99 68 34 30 4 - - 72 0.529 260 217 3rd West Lost OHL Championship
1999–2000 68 22 36 7 3 - 54 0.397 186 250 5th West Missed Playoffs
2000–01 68 26 34 5 3 - 60 0.441 222 263 4th West Lost in Quarterfinals
2001–02 68 24 27 10 7 - 65 0.478 210 249 5th West Lost in Semifinals
2002–03 68 31 27 7 3 - 72 0.529 220 205 2nd Midwest Lost in Semifinals
2003–04 68 53 11 2 2 - 110 0.809 300 147 1st Midwest Lost in Conference Final
2004–05 68 59 7 2 0 - 120 0.882 310 125 1st Midwest Won OHL Championship & Won Memorial Cup
2005–06 68 49 15 - 1 3 102 0.750 304 211 1st Midwest Lost OHL Championship
2006–07 68 50 14 - 1 3 104 0.765 311 231 1st Midwest Lost in Conference Final
2007–08 68 38 24 - 4 2 82 0.603 250 230 2nd Midwest Lost in Quarterfinals
2008–09 68 49 16 - 1 2 101 0.743 287 194 1st Midwest Lost in Conference Final
2009–10 68 49 16 - 1 2 101 0.743 273 208 1st Midwest Lost in Semifinals
2010–11 68 34 29 - 4 1 73 0.537 230 253 5th Midwest Lost in Quarterfinals
2011–12 68 49 18 - 0 1 99 0.728 277 178 1st Midwest Won OHL Championship & Lost Memorial Cup
2012–13 68 50 13 - 2 3 105 0.772 279 180 1st Midwest Won OHL Championship & Lost Memorial Cup
2013–14 68 49 14 - 1 4 103 0.757 316 203 3rd Midwest Lost in Semifinals & Lost Memorial Cup
2014–15 68 40 24 - 1 3 84 0.618 289 260 2nd Midwest Lost in Semifinals
2015–16 68 51 14 - 2 1 105 0.772 319 182 2nd Midwest Won OHL Championship & Won Memorial Cup
2016–17 68 46 15 - 3 4 99 0.728 289 194 3rd Midwest Lost in Semifinals
2017–18 68 39 25 - 2 2 82 0.603 233 212 3rd Midwest Lost in Quarterfinals
2018–19 68 46 15 - 6 1 99 0.728 299 211 1st Midwest Lost in Semifinals
2019–20 62 45 15 - 1 1 92 0.742 265 187 1st Midwest Cancelled



The John Labatt Centre.
The John Labatt Centre.

London Gardens/London Ice House, 1965–2002

The London Gardens was built in 1963 and served as the home of the Knights from the team's inception in 1965 to its closing in 2002. The building was renamed London Ice House in 1994. The last meaningful game played at the arena was in the 2002 playoffs, where the Knights lost in overtime in the sixth game of the second round to the eventual OHL Champion Erie Otters. The last goal in the building was scored by Carlo Colaiacovo. The Knights used the Ice House for their training camp and exhibition schedule for the 2002–03 season and moved out permanently in October 2002. The arena is currently home to the Forest City Velodrome.

John Labatt Centre/Budweiser Gardens, 2002–present

The Budweiser Gardens opened on October 11, 2002 as the Knights played host to the Plymouth Whalers. The first goal in the building was scored by Dylan Hunter. The arena, located in downtown London, is the largest in Western Ontario. Tickets for the 2005–06 season in the building sold out in one day, and there is currently a cap on season tickets due to the team's popularity

See also


  1. ^ MacLeod, Rex (1966-02-05). "Nats' inexperience evident, but club directors optimistic". The Globe and Mail.
  2. ^ "Howard Darwin founded Knights". Toronto Sun. 2009-10-23. Archived from the original on 2014-02-23. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
  3. ^ London Free Press
  4. ^ "London Knights logo 2001". Archived from the original on 2008-02-28.
  5. ^ "Longest Undefeated Streak". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2006-08-17.
  6. ^ "Hunter steps down as Capitals coach". May 14, 2012. Archived from the original on August 6, 2016.
  7. ^ "Game Summary 19140". May 15, 2013. Archived from the original on April 9, 2016.
  8. ^ "Knights to host 2014 Memorial Cup". May 14, 2013. Archived from the original on June 9, 2013.
  9. ^ "Leafs name Mark Hunter new director of player personnel". October 21, 2014. Archived from the original on October 22, 2014.
  10. ^ ". . . worst of times: Only nine years removed from 3-60-3". Archived from the original on 2004-11-28. Retrieved 2006-04-15.
  11. ^ "How Dale, Mark Hunter turned London Knights into a CHL powerhouse". 2018-10-19. Retrieved 2019-11-29.